Shelter for battered women thanks community for opening hearts

Published 9:55 am Saturday, February 6, 2010

To the Editor:

Since late last year, the American public has been told that the economy, housing market and unemployment rates are the worst they have been in years. We were prepared for a terrible holiday season during which spirits should have been low. And for victims of domestic violence, the last year has been devastating. For victims recently fleeing, it has been increasingly difficult to gain employment — and, in turn, locate and secure a suitable place to live after their shelter slay.

But something miraculous also occurred this holiday season. Almost like a story from Dr. Seuss, our clients’ children woke Christmas morning to brand new toys and clothes. They received stockings from Santa. They enjoyed Christmas dinner. They were able to experience Christmas as it should be — innocently. In fact, the normalcy of their holiday was largely untarnished by the fact that they were fleeing violence.

On behalf of the staff and clients of The Genieve Shelter, I would like to publicly thank all the local citizens who generously helped give our clients and their children a merry Christmas. Because of the nationwide hardships, our staff was unsure how much community response we would receive this holiday season. However, citizens of Suffolk, Smithfield and Franklin and Isle of Wight, Surry and Southampton counties came through once again. They saw past their own families and friends and reached out to those less fortunate than they. They sought out our clients — who only seek safety for themselves and their children — in order to grant a few Christmas wishes.

Now, not only can our clients sleep soundly and know that they have staff support, they can also rest assured that the community is behind them. They will be able to seek independence from violence and become stable in a community that surrounds them with love and support.

There are no words to describe our clients’ reactions to the outpouring of local generosity. So again, on their behalf, I would like to thank everyone who has helped a victim or her children this Christmas. It means more than you could ever know.

Melissa Hedelius,

Parent/Community Educator

The Genieve Shelter