These simple, spiced Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies feel like home–familiar, cozy, and oh-so-comforting.
Usually when the phone rings after 10 PM it’s not good news, but when I worked for a domestic violence shelter, midnight phone calls took on a new meaning. For the most part, they still meant something bad had happened, but they also meant something else, something extraordinary actually. Those middle of the night phone calls signified an incredible act of bravery. Behind every call was a woman facing her fears, standing up for herself, and saying no to the intimidation and manipulation she’d become accustomed to.
Most women in the shelter probably wouldn’t have called themselves brave. They were scared for their safety and burdened with worry, but I saw their courage and strength. Many of them had nothing but the clothes on their back, but they kept their chin up. They kept going, one day at a time, waking up, making beds, cooking meals, finding new friends. They made tough decisions. They found jobs. They got their kids to school. They got groceries. They looked for houses. Each act was another act of defiance, another way of reclaiming power over their own lives.
I learned so much from these women during the time at the shelter. I learned about the cycle of power and control, why so many women stay, and why it’s dangerous to leave an abuser. I got a better understanding of the challenges domestic violence victims face and the incredible strength it takes to get out of an abusive situation. My time there has stayed with me all these years, and it’s still an issue I feel deeply invested in.
This past week, I had the chance to take some homemade cookies to the women currently living at Choices, the domestic violence shelter here in Columbus. I remember from my days working at a shelter what a treat it was to get some homemade baked goods in the house. Truly, food transcends every circumstance and season. I knew I wanted to bring something that would be comforting and special, so I finally settled on these Old Fashioned Iced Oatmeal Cookies.
I don’t know about you, but even looking at these cookies makes me nostalgic. I used to love the boxed version of these cookies, but the homemade version far surpasses the old boxed kind. These are chewy and sweet, with a good kick of cinnamon and nutmeg to warm them up. I thought they were the perfect thing to spread a little love and joy to the women and kids in the shelter. There’s just something about them that makes you feel at home–safe, warm, and loved.
These cookies are very easy to make, and I plan to dress them up for all kinds of different occasions. I made a few with heart sprinkles and a few more with festive Halloween colors. You could easily color the frosting to fit the mood or pipe on smiley faces, letters, or fun designs. This recipe will definitely be making many more appearances in my kitchen, and I hope they’ll bring joy and comfort in every place they go.
Right now, Choices is raising money to help build a new shelter for domestic violence victims in Columbus. I’ve included a lot more information about this critical issue, as well as ways you can help, below the recipe. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and I’d love for you to join me in sharing your stories and spreading awareness about the impacts of domestic violence in our communities.
Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef
The current Choices shelter has only 51 beds, but they have upwards of 80 women and children staying in the shelter at any given time. The shelter never turns anyone away, so they’ve had to get creative, placing cots in offices and hallways to ensure everyone has a bed. Choices expects to provide services for over 2,000 people in 2016 and field 4,300 calls on their 24 hour helpline.
Currently, Choices is working with Columbus police, the Sheriff’s Office, and local domestic violence shelter to design a new shelter which focuses on Building Dignity for survivors of trauma. The new shelter will increase the number of beds to 120, and will include family units, shared kitchen and living spaces, green spaces, play areas, and even a kennel for pets. Guys, I can’t even tell you how wonderful this space would be. Having a space designed for restoring dignity, empowering survivors, and taking care of the details (like room for pets) that can make leaving an abuser so difficult would be a huge gift to survivors and our community.
If you would like to learn more about the shelter campaign as well as the services provided by Choices, visit their website, where you can donate money or time (or cookies!), hear stories from survivors, and write a note of hope.