Phobe Bell: Tahoe Women’s Services director aims to provide quality program | SierraSun.com
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Phobe Bell: Tahoe Women’s Services director aims to provide quality program

Joelle Babula

Phobe Bell is the executive director of Tahoe Women’s Services, which serves Truckee and the North Shore.

Q. How long have you worked for Tahoe Women’s Services?

A. A little over three years. I was hired on as the director of the Safehouse program when it began two years ago.

Q. What is the number one reason why Tahoe Women’s Services exists in Lake Tahoe?

A. Because, unfortunately, violence against women happens in our community and it’s necessary to provide help and resources for these women. Hopefully we’re also here to begin educating the community to prevent future violence.

Q. What are some of the challenges Tahoe Women’s Services faces that may be different in other regions?

A. This community has a hard time believing that these problems exist here. Tahoe is beautiful and people come here to escape “urban” problems. The truth is, studies actually show that domestic violence occurs at a higher rate in rural communities. None of us want to accept that. Also, people here tend to struggle with low paying jobs, seasonal work, isolation during the winter and a lack of affordable housing. All of these pressures can cause extra problems for families which can lead to violence. A lot of people that live here are also transient, they move here not knowing anybody so they have no support network to fall back on.

Q. What do you see in the future for Tahoe Women’s Services?

A. I’d like to see us be a more visible, positive member of the community. I’d like to be a place for people to come to no matter what is going on in their lives. We don’t have to be here just to deal with violence or a crisis situation. We can be here for support, for contact with others and for education. I’d also like to see more prevention work with kids in this community. If we’re going to see a change in family violence in this country, it’ll have to start with the kids. Right now we have more staff than we’ve ever had working on prevention, we’re really excited about it.

Q. What are your program goals as executive director?

A. To continue to grow in terms of prevention, to establish ourselves as a woman’s resource center and to make sure we are providing quality services.

Q. What are your personal goals as executive director?

A. I want to be really involved in the community in a lot of different functions, and I want to achieve that perfect balance between work, family and play. I want all of our staff to be in that place so we can help people who come in to get there themselves.

Q. As the director, if money and resources were no object, what plans would you have for the center?

A. I’d buy a beautiful building that would have on-site child care, classes and support groups. I’d also buy our own shelter building for the Safehouse program. It would be big and beautiful and safe. It would have a fenced in yard and a playground for the children. We’d own a van to help women get to all the appointments they need to get to. It can be so frustrating for people when they don’t have transportation. I could go on for hours with this one.

Q. What is the most difficult part of your job?

A. Finances. Making sure we have the money coming in to do the services we need to do. Funders keep wanting you to do more and more with less and less.

Q. What is your favorite part of your job?

A. The people. I love being a part of a community-based agency like this. We have a staff that’s incredibly energetic and enthusiastic and volunteers who donate hours of energy and time. It’s great to see community members who use the services get themselves out of horrible situations and then do wonderful things.

Q. What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

A. Rock climbing, telemark skiing, hiking, basically all of the outdoor things. And, definitely my new baby, seven month old Eliza.

Q. Describe the perfect day off. What would you do?

A. My perfect days off are usually with my husband and now Eliza, on the east side of the Sierras. We spend the day hiking, climbing … all outside the reach of phones.


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