The Family Violence Options Advocacy program (FVOAP) assists the state Department of Human Services (DHS) clients who are victims/survivors of domestic violence. Sharon King is FVOAP director at the Women’s Resource Center, a position she has held for four years.
A social worker for 27 years, Sharon is in charge of a four-person team of advocates who work with DHS to help domestic victims in Newport and Bristol County and in other parts of Rhode Island to obtain services. The FVOAP coordinates resources through the DHS and other agencies and programs to help clients obtain protection, legal services, housing assistance, counseling and other basic needs.
Sharon and her team also work closely with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence to make sure the process goes smoothly. While she is the administrator, she also maintains a client caseload of 30 families, while the team has 50 to 70 families.
“What I like best about the job is working with families. That’s the best part of the job to me, which is why I keep a caseload. I love helping people. That’s why I became a social worker – to work with families and not just to write reports and go to meetings,” she says.
Because the FVAOP is statewide, Sharon and her team do a lot of traveling. In addition to Newport and Bristol Counties, she has clients throughout southern Rhode Island. Each day is different, with duties ranging from meeting with clients at their homes or in shelters to do assessments and then finding the best ways for them to receive services.
“This job is meaningful because I know the resources that are available and can provide a lot of my experience and knowledge to my clients,” says Sharon. “This type of program is looking at the case and working on the whole family issue; seeing how this person can move on from domestic violence through financial assistance, therapy, child care, child IEPs, and other services. It’s so rewarding to know you’ve helped someone to get what they asked for, and maybe a lot ore.”
Sharon, a Bristol, R.I. native, acknowledges that working with domestic violence victims and survivors is sometimes very difficult. “Some of the things you see, hear and feel are horrific and that takes a long time to get used to. I always advise the young people who I hire to try and leave the job at work. Self care is important.”
As to her own ways of avoiding burn-out, Sharon says, , “I run, I do yoga, I work out at a gym almost every day. I have a chocolate lab named Lola so I hike and run with her at Mount Hope Farm, Warren Beach and Burr’s Hill Park.”
A graduate of Boston College, Sharon obtained a master’s degree from Anna Maria College. Divorced for 13 years and a survivor herself, she said she raised her son on her own and is proud to now see him in his second year of college, studying education. “I have a wonderful, supportive family, she said.