In Marti Greenslade’s mind, she really doesn’t have a choice.
“Once you are an advocate, you can’t turn around. This is how we live,” she said.
Greenslade, who retired from her 34-year nursing career in 2012, works part-time at Citizens Against Spouse Abuse as an assistant to Executive Director Lori Haney. Greenslade handles clerical work, helps with fundraising, writes letters to donors, assists with payroll and much more.
“Frankly, I couldn't do my job as the executive director without her,” Haney said.
Greenslade’s role at CASA goes well beyond desk work. She has a bond with the women who turn to the shelter in their time of greatest need. The Sedalia native was living in Great Britain when she divorced her second husband, who was an abuser; she returned to Missouri and ended up in a shelter in Columbia for a month and a half.
“I have a story, too,” she said.
Greenslade started working at CASA through the federal Experience Works program, which connects seniors with job training as well as employment and volunteer opportunities. When the grant that funded her position expired, she left CASA for a few months. She realized her value to the organization and its value to her when Haney called and said, “I need you.” Greenslade is grateful to have a good working relationship with Haney, and that feeling is more than mutual.
“In all honesty, I can't even begin to encapsulate everything I think and feel about this woman,” Haney said. “She's a tough old bird, with a big ol' heart. She'll give it to you straight when you need to hear it, whether you wanted to or not, but she is also an amazing listener who passes no judgment and offers some pretty sage advice.”
With her nursing background, Greenslade also pays attention to health and welfare issues at CASA. She is elated that the bathrooms and showers recently were renovated. She also is grateful for the Sedalia community’s support of the shelter. Recently CASA put a note on Facebook about needing school clothes for some children who are staying there, and in less than a day “the response was overwhelming,” Greenslade said. “Sedalia is a very generous community.”
Greenslade has great admiration for the staff at CASA, but also for the clients for their bravery in taking action to change their situation.
“People who are struggling and in an abusive relationship that isn’t so obvious, they know it’s not right, they know this is not the way to live,” she said. “It is important for them to know they are not by themselves; they will be supported and respected. … Victims out there need to know we are just a phone call away. We will jump through hoops for them.”
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “On average, it takes a victim seven times to leave before staying away for good.”
“The good thing is that, nationally, women are stepping up and saying this is not right. The more they see this in the news, the more they realize, ‘Someone is going to be there to help me, someone is going to hold my hand through this.’ We provide shelter, services, we help get their kids into school, (assist with) overdue bills, whatever it takes to get them freestanding.”
Haney calls Greenslade her “work mom, because she's always following me around the office, cleaning up after my piles of scattered paper and thoughts, as well as reminding me that I need to eat lunch and take a day off from time to time. ... I'm a better executive director, boss, and advocate because of her.”
Since Greenslade believes “retirement is overrated,” she plans to keep supporting the staff and clients at CASA, which also is a way to support herself.
“I have gotten so much stronger through my experience at the shelter I was at, but the ongoing support I get at CASA from seeing every day how we help people, that just makes me feel stronger as a survivor myself,” she said. “We do it all, and I love it. I love that I can give back. I was in a shelter for 47 days. I smile when I walk out the door of CASA because I know we did something that day that helped somebody.”