After arriving at Our Place, the YWCA’s domestic violence shelter in St. Clair County, a woman named Gabrielle got the first good night’s sleep she’d had in 10 years. The next day, she realized her son, Alex, was at peace as well. “It just seemed like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders,” she said. “He was a 9-year-old boy again, and I knew that was the start of our new lives.”
Thanks to the generosity of the more than 400 people who attended the Sixth Annual Purse & Passion St. Clair County Luncheon, many more women and children who no longer feel safe at home will be able to find the refuge they need. Proceeds from the event, co-chaired by Blair and Cindy Goodgame, and held at The Beacon at Pell City First United Methodist Church, will benefit Our Place and domestic violence services in the area.
“We are just amazed at the generosity of the wonderful people of St. Clair County,” said Yolanda Sullivan, CEO of YWCA Central Alabama. “Once again, St. Clair residents have shown tremendous compassion for the women and children we serve. Victims of domestic violence often feel very alone, so for them to realize that hundreds of people from their own community care so much about them and their safety is empowering.”
Victims of domestic violence who live in rural areas are often in isolated locations and have difficulty accessing services. Deterred by lack of transportation, distance or fear of an unknown city, they may be hesitant to travel to Birmingham to seek shelter from an abuser. Our Place, which is confidentially located, is the only domestic violence shelter certified by the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence that serves victims in St. Clair and Blount counties.
In 2013, Our Place provided emergency shelter to 79 women and children fleeing abusive homes. Shelter staff provided counseling and helped the victims make safety plans, obtain jobs or job training and work toward self-sufficiency. In addition, 1,347 domestic violence victims in St. Clair and Blount counties received assistance last year through the Court Advocacy program. Our Place also provided support groups for women and children and assisted rural victims in accessing social services and safe housing.
“They have changed our lives for the better, so much better,” Gabrielle said in a video telling her story. “We are both happy individuals who are succeeding in life.”
She and her son have moved into a place of their own, she has a great job as a customer service representative and Alex is in school making A’s and B’s. “The most important thing that I want people to know about me is that it’s possible,” she said. “After the abuse, after the pain, after the anguish and the heartache and the brokenness, I’m still going, and I’m so much happier now than I ever was before.”
We at the YW would like to extend a special thank you to the members of the steering committee, our table captains and our major sponsors, including: Benjamin Moore, Red Diamond, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, Belk, The Elmer B. and Glenda S. Harris Legacy Endowment Plan, Alabama Power Eastern Division, Pell City First United Methodist Church, Metro Bank, Talladega Speedway, Publix Super Market Charities, Paul and Marie Manning, Mays Bend Ladies Club, Northside Medical Associates, Chapel in the Pines and the City of Pell City.
Other sponsors included Town & Country Ford, The Happy Catering Co., Kell Realty, Landmark Credit Union, PNC, Butts to Go, Aliant Bank, Peoples Independent Bank, St. Vincent’s Health System, Town of Steele, First Baptist Church South, Thomas and Betts and Hill, Weisskopf & Hill, P.C. Thanks to all of our sponsors for their generous support.
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