The story of Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRCNM) is a multi-colored tapestry of resilience, strength and beauty created over 45 years. Many individuals have contributed to the tapestry through their work of supporting and empowering survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Chris Krajewski’s 35-year tenure at the organization represents a long and continuous thread that is integral to WRCNM’s story.
Krajewski was hired as WRCNM’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Program Director in 1987, just a decade after the organization was established. She played a major role during a time when every program was being built from the ground up. Her insight and direction contributed to the success and expansion of WRCNM. Today, the agency provides comprehensive services in five northern Lower Michigan counties, such as counseling, advocacy, housing, education, employment, a 24-hour helpline and Safe Home for individuals experiencing domestic abuse and sexual assault.
When Krajewski arrived in Petoskey to start her new job, the Safe Home had just moved from a rental property to its current location and had been ranked as the eighth busiest domestic abuse shelter in Michigan.
Krajewski was involved in the renovation of the Safe Home and the addition of offices connected to that building. Survivors reaching out for WRCNM services would eventually benefit from the addition of offices and advocates in Cheboygan, Gaylord and Mancelona.
Krajewski supervises and guides a large staff that has grown considerably during her 35 years with the agency. She strives to provide trauma-informed, confidential and compassionate services that value and respect each person who reaches out for support on their healing journey. She has built a program that focuses on the needs of survivors and offers safe housing, support groups, court accompaniment, safety planning, crisis intervention and healing from the physical and emotional trauma of abuse.
State agencies have recognized Krajewski’s important work with survivors and her efforts to create transformative change within the systems that survivors must navigate. In 2000, the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCADSV) honored Krajewski with their Apple Blossom Award. In 2006, she won the Crime Victim Service Award. In 2013, MCADSV recognized Krajewski for her outstanding advocacy and community work in ending violence against women.
Through the years, Krajewski worked to connect and collaborate with community partners and within systems that provide services and resources for survivors, such as law enforcement, hospitals and prosecutors. She has been a vital member of state boards and task forces and helped organize and provide professional training for law enforcement and prosecutors throughout the state to improve responses to ensure survivor safety, confidentiality and offender accountability. Krajewski played a vital role in the work plan and training that resulted from federal funding through the Grants to Encourage Arrest. She helped establish the Violence Prevention Team, which brings together community allies to engage in awareness and prevention initiatives. She was also involved in launching the 100 Men Campaign, which works to engage local men as allies in the movement to end domestic abuse and sexual assault.
Krajewski has been a speaker for national, state and local groups. The hundreds of speaking engagements she has provided over the years focus on education, awareness and prevention – changing deeply rooted cultural norms that perpetuate domestic abuse, sexual assault and child sexual assault and abuse.
For many years, Krajewski has shared her experience and knowledge at the state level by participating in peer reviews of other agencies to help them fine-tune and improve services.
In 2019, Krajewski was part of a WRCNM team to establish the agency’s Children’s Advocacy Center to support children who have experienced abuse and assault. Services are provided in a child-sensitive, supportive and safe environment. The center works with a multi-disciplinary team to ensure the best possible support is provided to each child and their family.
Chris Krajewski’s purposeful work continues to be woven through the tapestry of WRCNM’s ongoing story.