The Bernie House

Put yourself in the shoes of Patricia Slaughter for a moment. You established a non-profit for victims of domestic abuse. For years, the mission has operated seamlessly even on a limited budget. And yes, you are a one woman show. There is nothing else around like what you’ve started. The Bernie House is unique and you’ve seen your ideas work: lives radically changed. A grant is available through the State. More funding could double or even triple the impact on local families in Maryland. You get the opportunity to present your cause in front of a panel. Some of the other non-profits you’re going up against are massive organizations. Many have a budget to pay a full time employee for fundraising.

Two minutes, that’s what you get to tell them your ‘why’.

flower stencil with mission quote

Scanning the room during the presentations, you see glossy paper diagrams, dynamic video content and compelling statistics that show their impact to be in the thousands. You look down and in your lap you have a ziploc bag containing 21 purple hearts and 46 red hearts cut out from dollar store construction paper.

Bullet points are ready on the notepad in your bag. Your plan is to simply speak to your experience. You’ve seen lives redirected and the cycle of generational abuse shattered.

Deep breath, rise from your chair, march to the podium and begin to scatter the 46 red hearts. You say, ‘These red hearts symbolize the 46 lives lost this year to domestic violence’. The room falls silent.

You explain the efficacy of the two year program with The Bernie House. Turning back to the ziploc bag with the purple hearts you throw them over top of the red hearts on the floor. ‘These purple hearts represent the lives saved at The Bernie House. Don’t you think there should be more purple hearts than red?’

It is with that passion that you win the money for your cause. Celebration is in order! The catch…you must match those funds and continue the day-to-day operations. Now, the work begins.

 ‘Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.’

St. Mother Teresa

Hidden in a quiet suburban neighborhood of Montgomery County there is a home unlike any other. It is a sacred place offering refuge for families who have escaped domestic violence. The Bernie House will hold one family at a time for two full years. It is not transitional living, it is not a rehabilitation center, it is not a group home. It is a family home to offer normalcy after tragedy and brave escape. The Bernie House blends into the neighborhood. Inside, however, wounds are being healed and lives are being permanently changed for the better.

mother leans in to kiss baby son

Founder, Patti Slaughter, puts the pieces back together. Each aspect of life addressed. The other day one of her first families went back to The Bernie House to film a promotional video. She told me the kids didn’t remember the house at all. It was in that moment that Patti said,”I didn’t realize that was my real goal all along. Because if they don’t remember the house, they don’t remember the trauma that happened before”.

Not a single repeat family. That is something to be proud of!

Here is how it works…

  • Family moves into The Bernie House for two years. They open the door to a safe place, fully furnished with clothing for the children. Anything you’d ever need.
  • Family receives professional intensive case management to include: regularly family counseling, individual counseling, credit counseling & money management, enrollment in all local/state benefits programs, physical care.
  • If unemployed, the family is set up with career counseling, GED programs, trade schools or degree seeking scholarships/programs. Education offers stability after the two year program.
  • Once employed, rent will be due monthly based on income. An example range of rent could be $50/mo-$300/mo. The rent gets put into a savings account and turned back over in full to the parent upon completion of the two years.
  • At end of the program they are assisted into the next living arrangement, typically a rental. Walking away with the cash they’ve saved up in rent along with their choice of anything that is within The Bernie House (ie furniture, kitchen items, clothing, linens), the family moves happily into their next chapter.


The Bernie House needs our help. Let’s expand the reach.

  • Follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Re-share their content and tag them!
  • Be a Bernie House Ambassador
  • Host a luncheon, wine tasting, or a cocktail party at your home to fund-raise. Share a video at the event about The Bernie House. Provide options for online and in person donations
  • Volunteer your time. They need an office administrator 4-6 hrs/week.
  • Go to their events. Mardi Gras Ball, Golf Tournament…event setup and break down
  • Donate. Money, clothing, dishes, home goods; every act of generosity helps.

To learn more about The Bernie House and to get in contact with the organization directly, visit their site:

If you need help now call the National Domestic Violence hotline 24 hours a day.1-800-700-SAFE or 1-800-700-7233


    1. Author

      Karen, I don’t know how you are connected with Bernie House, but I sure am happy you are. Patti is such a force and I was beyond humbled to meet with her. Let’s support their mission however we can!! Thank you for the feedback.

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