JOPLIN, Mo. — The long-time executive director of a Joplin domestic violence shelter announces her retirement.
Alison Malinowski Sunday shares what she has learned and how the Lafayette House has changed over the past 40 years she’s been at the organization.
Alison Malinowski Sunday, Retiring, Lafayette House Executive Director, said, “This has been my family. You know, I did not have children.”
Alison Malinowski Sunday has been the Executive Director of Lafayette House for the past 25 years.
But — as with all things in life — it’s time to move on.
“Everything is in a good space and that’s a great time for me to say, okay, I’m going to step back.”
She began as a Vista Volunteer at the Joplin domestic violence shelter after getting her undergraduate education at the University of Maryland.
“They sent me here for one year, to do community development and that would have been 1980.”
“The mission. The mission.”
Since then, so much has changed.
“Many of the women we served were so physically injured before they would even seek help. And that’s maybe one of the best parts of having been here so long, is that now we see younger women who get out long before they have the broken bones, and the very serious head injuries or injuries to their children.”
Alison has been recognized multiple times for the work she’s done.
Under her leadership, the Lafayette House has helped thousands and thousands of domestic violence victims.
And, the organization has added services like substance use disorder treatment for clients.
“The two run so parallel and we very early on recognized that if you’re going to help someone be safe, you have to be able to address all the issues facing them.”
Alison will retire on June 30th, and she hopes the next person in her shoes will never forget to listen to the women they help each and every day.
“The women walking through the door are not the same women who walked in the door in 1980. And they won’t be the same women who walk in in 2030. So just staying very aware of what the needs are in Joplin at any given time.”
And even though she will trade in her office for spending more time with her step-grandchildren, learning new hobbies, and traveling, she won’t ever be too far away.
“I will stay engaged on the outside. You know, continue to support the mission and the services.”
A committee is overseeing the search for her replacement for a smooth and uninterrupted transition.
The Lafayette House will hold a formal retirement celebration for Alison in the spring.