● By Wendy Sipple
Photo by Dante Fontana
Based in rural Placer County, KISS, a local nonprofit that operates under the banner “Keep It Simple Sisters,”
provides transitional housing for abused women and those in various forms of recovery; a supportive shelter where empowerment is safely fostered and confidence restored.
Inspired by the global sisterhood that exists among women of all cultures and backgrounds, KISS Founder and Director Carol Mullins established the organization in 1994 with proceeds from a daycare business. Her initial aim – to assist women recovering from drug, alcohol and/or physical abuse – evolved into a grassroots mission to promote independent living for not only these women in crisis, but also their children. As a result of Mullin’s vision and efforts, today KISS offers a safe and sober environment for its residents, and the stability and support they need to address their issues and restart their lives.
Breaking detrimental abuse patterns, specifically the debilitating mentality it creates, is difficult for those who have been broken down by the mental, emotional and physical effects of domestic violence. Even with the support that KISS strives to provide those it serves, the readjustment process from abuse victim to survivor can rightfully and perhaps only be described as painstaking. Mullins, however, is resolute when she thinks about the women and children KISS currently serves. She believes that healthy women today will help create wholeness for future generations. Mullins’ commitment requires her not only to help women and children in need, but also to combat commonly held misperceptions about domestic violence through awareness and education.
“Society at large would be appalled if they knew how some of these women and their children have lived their lives, and the tenacity and strength it takes to move forward and create a stable family life,” says Mullins, who adds that abuse is absolutely cyclical. Naturally, and dangerously, victims of domestic violence commonly begin to view their situations as normal. Because the struggle to change this mentality is constant, the need for support is crucial.
Beyond the monetary challenges, KISS often faces opposition from residents, who, after abandoning the chaotic lifestyle that abuse creates, are reluctant to accept the structure they desperately need to move forward successfully and independently. The organization overcomes this obstacle, and others similar, with a slate of supportive, targeted and skill-building programs. “Through a constant routine of meetings, 12-step programs, a wonderful life coach, and our independent living philosophies, we create a sisterhood of love and support that allows women to be confident, to move from transitional housing to a new life,” Mullins explains. “We hope to continue to replace a whole, healthy family where a chaotic, abusive lifestyle was before.” Volunteers operate and help maintain KISS houses, and the organization is always seeking more hands, as well as monetary donations to help cover operation costs. Two major fund raisers, times and dates of which have yet to be confirmed, are currently in the works, but in the meantime Mullins says there is one thing that everyone can do to help right now: “Don’t look away.”
For more information about KISS, call Carol Mullins at 916-899-0294.