UW Combined Fund Drive

March 15, 2021

Practicing Social Advocacy: Interview with Sarah Hart of New Beginnings

As part of The Whole U’s First 90 wellness challenge, UWCFD staff are facilitating a 90-day habit formation program focused on helping participants to identify, connect with, and engage on behalf of causes about which they are passionate. We are guided by our theme “Identify, Assess, Act – Social Advocacy for Everyone”.  The Mini-Series is a collection of short interviews, written and recorded, with experts who deliver straightforward strategies for becoming more engaged global citizens.

In this interview, we highlight Seattle based nonprofit New Beginnings – Ending Domestic Violence. With over 40 years of established history, New Beginnings has become a leading force in the movement to end domestic violence and has grown to include a full range of services for survivors.

With a mission to empower survivors and mobilize community awareness and action to end domestic violence, New Beginnings is the only full service agency in Seattle whose primary mission is to serve domestic violence survivors. On average, New Beginnings serves over 10,000 women, children, and men each year.

New Beginnings is a member of the National and Washington State Coalitions Against Domestic Violence and the Coalition Ending Gender Based Violence. New Beginnings is also a member of the Seattle/King County Coalition for the Homeless, Seattle Human Services Coalition and is a United Way member agency.

Sarah Hart

Sarah Hart, Community Outreach and Engagement Manager at New Beginnings, answers our questions, sharing insights into her experience with social advocacy and how you can get involved.

Q: How do you define social advocacy? 

A: I think of it is an organized effort by dedicated individuals who continue to work towards change in their community.

When did you start your journey with social advocacy? 

I have been engaged in civics for a long time, working for political campaigns and law makers since high school. After college, I got my teaching degree, and worked as an educator, and that shifted my understanding of the role of advocacy in society. I think sometimes shifts in policy or representation can be a part of a social advocacy campaign but often times social advocacy organizations work outside or in collaboration with government to create change.

What are your preferred ways to get involved with social advocacy? 

Because I started in education and am an educator in my current role at New Beginnings, education is my favorite way to get involved. I believe in the power of learning to expand people’s understanding of what’s possible and so conversations, discussions, and other learning opportunities are my favorite ways to affect change.

The most important thing I ask when doing education around social advocacy is “how can I make this relevant?” or “why does this matter to my audience?” I think if you can find the connection to another person that is an awesome power towards advocating for your cause.

Can you share a bit about New Beginnings?

Founded in 1976, New Beginnings’ mission is to empower survivors and mobilize community awareness and action to end domestic violence.  We do this through survivor centered advocacy, direct assistance, housing support, support groups and community education to prevent domestic violence and increase community resiliency when domestic violence happens. We have a 24/7 helpline that provides direct service and is an entry way to all our services.

How does your work intersect with the social advocacy space? 

I think there are a lot of different ways our work intersects with social advocacy. Our program was originally developed out of the feminist movement and we are considered a feminist organization. We have been doing a lot of work to make sure that our program is intersectional and part of larger anti-violence movements, especially movements against state sanctioned violence.

How can people get involved with New Beginnings? 

One of the facts that sticks with me is that 60% of people will disclose their experience with domestic violence to a loved one, colleague, or friend, but many fewer reach out to community organizations like ours. The best way to get involved with our work is to learn about domestic violence and how you can be a supportive friend or loved one, so that if someone chooses to share their experience with you, you are equipped to be supportive. You can always learn more about us and DV by emailing engage@newbegin.org.

What advice would you give someone who is new to social advocacy?

There are a lot of ways to get involved and it can be overwhelming, so start where you can – for me because my background is in education, it is to learn as much as I can and through that process meet stakeholders, make connections, and start to see where my body and my voice can have impact.

To learn more about domestic violence, getting involved, giving, and services, check out https://www.newbegin.org/.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, call the New Beginnings 24-Hour Helpline: 206-522-9472.