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Christmas comes early for DV shelter residents

The Pandemic Emergency Assistance Fund (PEAF), which was set up for struggling families and survivors of domestic violence, is administered through New York state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) and the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV). It was through the OPDV that AAPCI was fortunate to receive one of the awards for its domestic violence programs.

The Program Directors for Serenity House and Renee Steedley (AAPCI’s two domestic violence shelters), Ms. Pipkins and Ms. Jackson wanted to ensure that the money was used to support their clients in the best possible way. Clients receiving any of the funding needed to meet specific eligibility criteria: Read more…

  • Clients had to currently be receiving assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Plan or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and whose income did not exceed 200% of the Federal Poverty Level for their family size.   
  • The domestic violence survivor or at least one member of the household had to be a US citizen.


Based on these criteria, our clients filled out the application provided by the state to determine their eligibility, along with a wish list. All of the residents’ wish lists contained items they could use once they secured permanent housing.

After much deliberation, Ms. Pipkins and Ms. Jackson decided to give clients a gift basket home starter kit, a Target gift card, and a furniture store gift card, to begin their new lives in permanent housing.    

Ms. Pipkins approached Raymour & Flanigan in Valley Stream, New York to speak with them about a potential collaboration for the furniture gift cards. After sharing information about the agency and the clientele that we serve, Raymour & Flanigan were extremely excited to be part of this venture. 

The program began in February 2022 and Serenity House and Renee Steedley have been extremely grateful to be able to present clients who have moved on to independent housing with the following items:

  • Gift Basket Home Starter Kit containing a coffee maker, toaster, dishes, pots and pans, silverware set, microwave oven, blender, air fryer, and a flat screen television.
  • Target Gift Card to the value of $500.
  • Raymour & Flanigan Furniture Store Gift Card. Each family will receive gift cards in increments of $1,000 based on the family size. For example, a family size of five will receive $5,000 worth of gift cards.

This program was a welcome relief after a very hard time for our clients during the pandemic, and Ms. Pipkins is hopeful that this will motivate and inspire our clients to seek permanent housing and independent living.

Ms. Pipkins and Ms. Lee (Assistant Program Director at Serenity House) had the pleasure of sharing the news about the gifts that their clients who are planning on transitioning to permanent housing would receive. There were lots of tears of joy!

In total, PEAF is assisting 41 families at AAPCI; 23 families are being helped at Serenity House and 18 families at Renee Steedley.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence for awarding us this funding, and to Raymour & Flanigan for helping us to give our clients the fresh and positive start that they deserve.