Organization helping put thanks back in Thanksgiving for abused women


While many look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday to see family, the holiday can be painful to some with strained family ties. 

Women over at the Wichita Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) are recovering from abusive relationships. It’s one of the criteria to get into the program which provides women with a job, resources, and counseling as they recover from past traumas. 

“As a society, we focus on Thanksgiving and family and Christmas and friends and being tankful for everything in our lives but I think we also need to realize that not everybody is in that space,” Karen Schmidt, executive director for Wichita WIN said Tuesday.

One of the women employed by WIN is on the up and up after a multitude of hardships, including homelessness, abuse and legal issues. Ashley Crawford admits she does not have the ideal family life which can be a somber feeling during the holidays.

“I’m pretty much alone. I don’t have my kids in my custody right now. I have a very on again off again relationship with my mother,” Crawford says. 

Crawford’s 5-year-old son and twin 16-month-old daughters are in foster care currently but she’s fighting to get them back. She’s currently pregnant with a baby girl who she has chosen the path of adoption for. 

“I have to give myself stability for my prior three, and I have to give this one a good start,” Crawford said touching her stomach.

With resources from WIN, Crawford has secured housing on her own as well as weekly supervised visits with her children. Today, she made contact with her mother after two months of not speaking. 

“I finally was like I’m gonna celebrate Thanksgiving. Whether it be by myself or with my mom or whoever that’s beneficial to my life. If it does end up being just me, then I still have things to be thankful for,” Crawford said.

A poster inside the WIN building asks the women what they’re thankful for. Among the responses: doctors, kitty cats, yoga, and the progress I have made in life as a woman. 

The group hosted a Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday for the survivors. 

“I’ve come to realize that sometimes they’re the only support I’ve had,” Crawford said.

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