Note: At its Dec. 6 Women in Business Breakfast, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce named twelve Women of Distinction for 2020. In recognition of their achievements, the Morning Sun will be publishing profiles of each Woman of Distinction.

PITTSBURG — For the last 12 years, Brooke Powell has worked at Safehouse Crisis Center, which has offices in Pittsburg and Coffeyville and works to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Powell moved to Pittsburg in 2004 from Altamont, Kansas, where she grew up, to attend Pittsburg State University.

“Moving over to Pittsburg was just far away enough from my hometown but not too far,” Powell said. After graduating, Powell eventually married her longtime boyfriend Tyler, with whom she now has a six-year-old son.

“We love the Pittsburg area,” Powell said. “It was just big enough. It was comfortable, we loved how we could hop in the car and get to one end of town in just a few minutes, and I always pictured us living in a city but when we moved up here we just liked the community.”

Powell joined Safehouse shortly after graduating from PSU and soon moved into the position of victim advocate, before becoming program director five years ago.

Working with victims of domestic violence, oftentimes “we don’t really get the ‘thank yous’ and the ‘good jobs,’” Powell said. “We just do it because we want to make sure that they’re taken care of.”

Powell remembers her time as a victim advocate and working directly with survivors of abuse, “so many times just listening to them and crying with them and holding their hand and reassuring them that they can do this,” she said.

As program director, she no longer works directly with victims, but she supports the victim advocate staff, and helps them deal with the stress of their job.

“It’s hard,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking, because you see a lot of ugliness, you see the ugly side of life.”

The rewarding part of the job, however, is getting to see the survivors’ transformation after their time spent with Safehouse, when they often seem like a new person.

“They just kind of turn into a butterfly by the time they leave,” Powell said. “I love to see that success of the survivors; I love to see that change.”

Two years ago, Powell noted, Safehouse Executive Director Rebecca Brubaker was recognized as a Woman of Distinction. “To turn around two years later and receive that call that I had been honored with that, it was just so humbling and it just meant the world to me,” Powell said.

Powell’s job at Safehouse is “kind of a behind the scenes job,” she said. “And first to be nominated, and then to be honored amongst all the other women that were chosen this year, it was pretty special.”