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These brothers know how people should be treated. That's why they're helping them move on.

These 'Meatheads' just launched a viral campaign to end domestic violence.

These brothers know how people should be treated. That's why they're helping them move on.

Moving to a new place is stressful even under normal circumstances.

But for those in violent relationships, it can be a lot more complicated. Worries are not just "Where's my phone charger?" and "Do I have enough packing tape?" but "How do I safely get myself and my kids out of the house before my partner gets home?" The logistical and financial challenges can make it that much harder to leave a dangerous situation.

Heartbreakingly, this kind of situation is more common than you'd think. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced severe physical violence by a partner in their lifetime.


That's where Meathead Movers comes in.

Photo courtesy of Meathead Movers.

After getting requests from cash-strapped folks trying to flee abusive relationships, Aaron and Evan Steed, cofounders of Meathead Movers, began quietly helping men and women move for free in the late 1990s.

"When I first received a frantic phone call... I could hear the sheer desperation, fear, and panic through the phone," CEO Aaron Steed recounted in an email interview. "My brother and I knew that we needed to jump in our truck and get there as soon as we could. Accepting payment was the last thing on our mind."

"Real men don't hit women." Photo courtesy of Meathead Movers.

After that initial call, the brothers visited local shelters and let them know about the services they were offering. By 2001, they had developed formal partnerships with a number of shelters to help coordinate safe relocations.

And earlier this year, Meathead Movers took things one step further by launching the #MoveToEndDV pledge. Their goal? To challenge other businesses to think about how they can help people move on from domestic violence situations.

Already, 83 business have taken the #MoveToEndDV pledge, including a yoga studio, massage therapists, other moving companies, a mortgage broker, and more.


"Take the Pledge." Meathead Movers website.

For Aaron Steed, it's been amazing to see the creative ways that other businesses are finding to contribute. "Even ones that you think could have nothing to do with helping victims of domestic violence are finding a way to get creative and make a real impact," he explains.

David Wilson, a former high school economics teacher turned vice president of mortgage lending at Guaranteed Rate in San Luis Obispo, California, plans to teach financial literacy classes at a local women's shelter to help domestic violence survivors regain their financial footing. "Oftentimes controlling the finances is part of [domestic violence], so they need to re-establish the bank accounts and credit," he told me in a phone interview.

Ruthann McKenzie. Photo by RPM Designs.

For Ruthann McKenzie, founder of Just Be Confident, a women's coaching company in Sunrise, Florida, taking the pledge had personal meaning. Four years ago, she fled an abusive relationship with her 4-month-old.

"I wanted those who have experienced domestic violence or are currently going through it to know that there is hope and they can be brave," she said in an email interview.

Now an advocate for domestic violence survivors, McKenzie's business offers a free e-course and mentors young women who have experienced homelessness and domestic violence.

Photo courtesy of Meathead Movers.

In addition to helping people escape abusive homes, the Steeds hope to show their young employees — student athletes working their way through school — that, as Aaron put it, "domestic violence lurks in even the most perfect seeming lives [and] homes."

He never could have imagined that a decision he made nearly 20 years ago could take on a life of its own. "I am surprised and humbled by the viral nature of this campaign," Aaron says. And he's put forth a moving challenge for other businesses:

"We challenge all businesses to get creative and figure out how they can help victims of domestic violence."

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.