Tamara Brisibe has been a Saint Martha’s board member for four years, currently serving as the chair of the finance committee and the treasurer. She has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to our mission of serving women and children impacted by domestic violence.
When and why did you get involved with Saint Martha’s?
Being involved in Saint Martha’s is my passion and purpose.
When I turned 40, I thought maybe I won’t change the world in a huge magnificent way, but there is something I’m supposed to be doing. A friend invited me to a Saint Martha’s meeting and one of the past residents came to speak.
When you hear of a shelter, you think of a place. But Saint Martha’s is so much more. It’s emotional shelter, physical shelter, advocating to shelter women from future violence. When I listened to that resident, I realized that this is a place where she could become someone better. Before women come here, they may have made choices based on trauma or pain that put them in a difficult position. Saint Martha’s elevates them. It’s not just giving them shelter for a few months. It’s ongoing therapy and support. That’s the magic of it.
Why does this work matter?
The words “domestic” and “violence” should never go together. Your home should be a place of safety. Uncoupling those words and addressing the root of the problem is putting out the fire versus just blowing out the smoke.
What is the most important thing you’d like donors to know about Saint Martha’s?
Every cent, every dollar, every penny that is donated is changing more lives than you can imagine. My brother-in-law was trying to simplify his giving a few years ago, and he chose to stick with Saint Martha’s because he’s seen how much it impacts the people we serve, but also the profound impact it has on me – and I’m not a direct resident or recipient of what they do. It is so much more than just getting women and children out of a situation. It’s breaking a cycle of pain and hurt, sometimes in intangible ways, for generations.
What is something valuable you’ve learned as part of your work with Saint Martha’s?
There are varying flavors of domestic violence. One thing I didn’t see organizations addressing is financial abuse. Saint Martha’s is bringing more awareness and providing avenues for financial literacy. A lot of women stay in harmful situations because they start with financial abuse.
It has changed the way I parent. Being a child, you’re told where to go, what to eat, what to wear. But seeing people in situations where they might not have a voice has shown me how important it is for my children to know that if someone isn’t creating a space for your voice to be heard, it isn’t right for you.
What has been fulfilling about your work with Saint Martha’s?
Hearing from past residents and seeing them thrive in their journey. Watching Saint Martha’s grow – we didn’t have the drop in center when I joined the board; it was just an idea at the time. Moving from the idea to actual execution is fulfilling.
I like to see myself as a strong woman, but that word has been redefined for me through this experience. The women Saint Martha’s serves are so much more than “strong.” They muster all their will to be happy and survive and thrive – they let nothing get in the way. Every dollar our donors give contributes to supporting that will.