Profiles of DV Leaders across North America

Interview Date: May, 2008

Nancy: Can you describe for us your passion for the work that you do?

Carolyn: Normally I wear a gold necklace, with an angel, and that reminds me of my passion. It represents my grandchildren who have enormous love surrounding them, which gives them the opportunity to be known and many people have not had that opportunity. And I think that people who hit people in the context of a relationship are definitely people that have not had those opportunities. And I love connecting with people that are unconnectable. And seeing them…watch them warm, melt, glow in being known and in that process they become better people. And I become a better person too.

Nancy: How do you replenish your strength to keep on with the work?

Carolyn: Outside or inside? Lots of humour, lots of food, pizza practically every week. Outside, I take lots of vacations… And the other process is intellectual—curiosity. It satisfies, like a burst of endorphins in your brain and so my weeks of vacation, I am always reading and trying to find things to bring back to the work that will make a difference. The work energizes me. I don’t deny that it is hard work… There is a lot of responsibility… I think that to be wealthy is to do work that you love and to do it on your own schedule… I stay really connected to my grandchildren and that goes back full circle and I want them to be compassionate people and there are six of them and so I want six compassionate people. They are a huge energizer. I am a blessed woman.

Nancy: Can we rewind the tape back to the beginning days of CAFA?

Carolyn: The name CAFA comes from when we first started. I thought that I would be developing intervention for church women to use at their kitchen table to help women who were experiencing violence. CAFA was close to coffee. And that is how we started with Echo, doing the important front line piece of that. I had no intention of working with the husbands.

Nancy: Is your constituency still the women?

Carolyn: Yes, but we are coming through a different door to help them. If you looked at the early days of CAFA we mostly did intervention training. Our CUP , CAFA CUP. We did many trainings and they were well attended. But the people we were going to help did not set up to be helped in the way that we thought. Women did not go to the next door neighbour’s table, they went to support groups.

Nancy: What about your name change? Does that signal a new direction?

Carolyn: Actually, it more accurately labels what we do. Christians Addressing Family Abuse goes back to the lady at the table equipped to address the DV of her neighbour. Instead, as a group, we address families and relationships. And it is not so narrow as the next door neighbour and husband, but much broader, parenting, husband/wife, also in terms of advocating, grandparents, and so really we are advocating more for families…And so we renamed…We didn’t change our focus, we are more accurately labeling our work.

Nancy: Thanks so much for sharing your vision with us.

Carolyn Rexius
Carolyn Rexius
Setting:
Office Video Link

Agency:
Christians as Family Advocates (CAFA)

Location:
Eugene, Oregon