2017-02-16 / Around Town

Conversation with David McCurdy

By James Merolla

David McCurdy, the new development director of the Women’s Resource Center in Newport, comes to his new position after eight years as executive director of the Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation.

McCurdy, who also has experience as project manager in the field of environmental consulting, will now focus on increasing financial support for victims of domestic abuse.

The Women’s Resource Center is hailed as the pre-eminent organization combating domestic violence in the Newport area. Newport This Week recently sat down with Mc- Curdy to discuss the challenges of his new post, the importance of getting the word out about the WRC’s mission, and the connection inherent in his switch from the lighthouse to addressing the horrors wrought by domestic violence.

NTW: Why did you want to make the leap from Rose Island at this time in your life?

McCurdy: This was really not much of a leap. It was kind of a natural step, to work as a development director after leaving the lighthouse. I have years of experience working with potential donors in Newport, as well as throughout Rhode Island. I really like building personal relationships with the community. I have been lucky to work with two outstanding organizations that are unique with their own missions, but similar in that they both need support from donations and grants to survive.

NTW: Has your previous experience at RILF helped with what you are doing now?

McCurdy: When your [job is to] ask for money and donations, it helps to have a good network of folks that you can reach out to for help. My time at the lighthouse has helped me to generate this network. I value the personal relationships I built with my past board of directors and I am currently working with several to assist me with strategy for the WRC. I am exposed to a new network of potential donors and I am enjoying building [new] relationships.

NTW: What does the WRC do well? What does it need to do better?

McCurdy: We need to spread the word that we offer services to anyone dealing with domestic violence issues. The Women’s Resource Center provides services to more than

3,000 people each year. We provide counseling, court advocacy, and transitional housing shelter for women who are survivors of domestic violence. Our outreach program is currently working to help provide services and assistance to residents of Newport’s North End.

NTW: The message has changed over the years, but is the word getting out? Is domestic violence any less of a threat to the well-being of your clients than it was two years ago? Five? Ten?

McCurdy: Yes, word is getting out that women have a choice and that they do not have to suffer through domestic violence. There is help out there. Statistics do not show that there has been a dramatic reduction in cases of domestic violence. In some cases, they may show an increase [of reports] as women feel like they have an option to help them escape a horrible environment.

NTW: How can you, in your new role, change the dynamic or the public perception? What do you want the public to know?

McCurdy: Public perception is that domestic violence happens elsewhere. Unfortunately, this is not true. Domestic violence spans all populations throughout every community.

NTW: How can the average person help?

McCurdy: Listen to your heart and don’t be afraid to offer help to anyone you may think is suffering through a terrible situation.

In the United Kingdom and elsewhere in the United States, there are a number of domestic violence organizations whose names draw parallels to lighthouses. In London, the Lighthouse Foundation has been a beacon of hope for domestic violence victims for more than four decades.

The Women’s Resource Center serves communities in both Newport and Bristol counties. For more information, visit wrcnbc.org or call 401-846-5263.

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