Breast Cancer Survivor Opens Shelter for Women and Children of Domestic Abuse

Daily Point of Light # 6269 May 25, 2018
Shirley’s House of Hope co-founders, Sue Poole (left) and Julie Cravillion (right) speak at the annual Iron Chef event./Courtesy Julie Cravillion

Julie Cravillion was the director of a local church ministry in 2007 when she heard that 300 families were seeking services regarding domestic violence. They were asking the faith community to help. She couldn’t get this out of her mind and felt God was calling her to get involved.

She contacted 11 different churches and put together personal care bags for the families. During all this, she was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation.

However, despite her diagnosis, she felt called upon to do more, so she put an ad in the paper to find other people who were interested in helping start a domestic abuse shelter.

Quickly, Julie and her friend, Sue Poole, were able to form a steering committee. At each meeting more and more people showed up, allowing them to overcome any obstacles to opening the shelter. She did all this while continuing chemotherapy for a full year.

In 2009, Shirley’s House of Hope officially earned its nonprofit status and in 2010, the first shelter opened.

Julie now serves as the executive director and development director of Shirley’s House of Hope. She works full-time and receives no financial compensation. Her primary role is development and raising funds to support the shelter.

Her responsibilities with Shirley’s House of Hope includes overseeing operations, meeting with the board, overseeing fundraising, making appeals to the community, acquiring new donors, speaking engagements, developing relationships with major gift donors, grant writing, overseeing finances and writing the newsletter.  

Julie spearheaded the capital campaign that raised more than $375,000 for Shirley’s House of Hope./Courtesy Julie Cravillion

She also spearheaded the capital campaign that raised more than $375,000 to help women and children who are hurting from abuse.

Shirley’s House of Hope is expanding. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place on May 23, 2018 for a second building that will focus on transitional and recovery services. Residents in this building will have another year to be in school or work to save money until they can afford to be out on their own.

Shirley’s House of Hope will also have upcoming fundraising events such as Iron Chef and Striking Out Domestic Violence bowling.

Julie believes it is important for others to give back because she says when you give, you are the one who benefits. “I have never experienced more joy or walked closer with God than when at Shirley’s House of Hope – this place is a miracle.”

She says the most rewarding part of her work has been seeing these women set free from horrible situations.

She wants people to learn from her story to step out in faith and do what God is calling you to do. “We can stay in our comfort zone or we can step out and give back and find purpose in life.”

Today, Julie is cancer free and says her life is a miracle.

This post was written by Karen Cohen.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Julie? Visit All For Good to find local volunteer opportunities.

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