In 2009, Dionna Burns came to the Morning Star Sanctuary Domestic Violence Shelter seeking refuge from an abusive relationship. Upon arriving, she received services, including emergency shelter, food and supplies, and assistance with filing an Order of Protection. Dionna stayed at the Morning Star shelter for a year before entering transitional housing for another year while she got back on her feet. During this time, Dionna continued to receive counseling through Morning Star and received assistance in finding permanent housing.
Following her exit from the Morning Star shelter, Dionna joined the Morning Star Sanctuary Mentoring Program. The mentoring program assists mentees in a number of ways – providing friendship and emotional support after leaving a domestic violence situation, guidance to navigate court hearings, aid to find employment and housing, and assistance with basic needs such as groceries and transportation. When asked about the mentoring program, Dionna says, “I have nothing but good things to say about the mentoring program. Without Mary Lee Thompson’s leadership, the mentoring program wouldn’t be where it is today, helping so many survivors overcome the obstacles in their way.”
Dionna received mentoring for several years before being promoted to a mentor herself. Since then, she has mentored two other survivors of domestic violence. She always looks forward to the monthly mentoring meetings, saying they make her feel wanted and welcome. “I love giving back because I received help when I needed it most,” Dionna says. “Now if my mentees need anything, I’m there for them.”
It’s not unusual for people to ask Dionna questions about domestic violence situations they’re aware of or involved in personally. “So many people you see on a daily basis are going through a domestic violence situation,” she explains. “Many times they don’t say anything. I wish it was talked about more so people knew that programs like Morning Star Sanctuary exist, and they can receive the help they need.”
Dionna has come full circle in her involvement with Morning Star Sanctuary. She says a weight has been lifted off her shoulders, and she’s able to relax and feel free again. She now works for HCA in the registration department and part-time at Ross. We’re so thankful she made the courageous choice to reach out for help and that she continues to support other women in similar situations.
Through the Morning Star Sanctuary Mentoring Program, 136 survivors of domestic violence have been empowered to achieve self-sufficiency through counseling, education, literacy training, and assistance to secure housing and employment. Annually, 50+ mentors provide more than 5,000 volunteer hours through the mentoring program.
The Morning Star Sanctuary 24/7 domestic violence hotline number is 615-860-0003.