The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

Local News

September 29, 2012

Events to raise awareness of domestic violence

Officials with a local organization which deals with the tragedy of domestic violence are hoping to bring the community together for one night, to remember the victims and celebrate the survivors.

The annual “Day of Unity” event, sponsored by Women In Need of Hunt County, is scheduled at 6 p.m. Monday at the Best Western Monica Royale Inn & Suites, 3001 Mustang Crossing in Greenville.

The event is based on the original “Day of Unity” observance in 1981, which grew to become national Domestic Violence Awareness Month each October.

“The theme this year is ‘Even 1 is 2 Many’,” said Michelle Lee, Community Education Coordinator with Women In Need.

Lee said Women In Need, which assists the victims of domestic violence through a variety of services, still feels the impact of the tragic death last summer of Stella Michelle “Doc” Ray, whose estranged husband was charged with capital murder in connection with her death.

“I realize Stella was our ‘one’,” Lee said. “But that one is too many.”

Lee joined with Dianna Jones from “Project Respect” at Texas A&M University-Commerce on Friday to tie purple ribbons — the symbol of Domestic Violence Awareness — at locations in both Greenville and Commerce.

Guest speaker for Monday’s event will be Pebbles Dennis.

“She was actually a victim as a child,” Lee said. “They grew up seeing it, knowing its impact.”

The Day of Unity ceremony will also address the growing problems of teen dating violence and bullying.

Other speakers scheduled during the event include Jeffery E. Dailey, Chief Prosecutor with the Hunt County Attorney’s office and County Court-at-law Judge No. 2 Judge Duncan Thomas.

Women In Need provides emergency shelter care, a 24-hour crisis hotline, counseling, support and accompaniment through the legal system, aftercare, assistance with clothing and household needs, as well as job training and referrals.

Executive director Roger Robertson said that in the past year, Women In Need had assisted more than 1,200 adults with various services.

“A total of 326 individuals were sheltered,” Robertson said. Of those, 156 were children.

“That is almost a person a day,” Lee said.

And it is not just women seeking the agency’s services.

“We help everybody,” Robertson said, adding Women In Need works alongside local law enforcement and the Hunt Memorial Hospital District. “Without the help of the community we could not offer the services we provide.”

More than half of the people served by Women In Need were referred to the agency by those who have already received assistance, or by family members and friends of the victims.

“And individuals don’t have to be victims of just physical abuse,” Robertson said.

As such Women In Need in turn relies greatly on the public’s assistance.

“Whether it is monetary donations or in-kind, such as canned green beans, or whether it’s clothing or furnishings,” Robertson explained. “All of these add up and help us make our mission of helping victims.”

Anyone wanting more information concerning the “Day of Unity” program or Women In Need can call 903-455-4612.

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