October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

proclamation10012008October 1, 2008

The Family Sunshine Center held a press conference and proclamation signing event on October 1, 2008 at the Exodus Community.

Charlene Holtsford, President of the Board of the Family Sunshine Center, welcomed the attendees of the event. There was standing room only. Holtsford said, "Thank you so much for coming. What an overwhelming show of support this is for our mission. It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome you to the Family Sunshine Center's Exodus Community this morning as we come together to recognize the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We are so very, very excited to have so many government officials in our service area who have taken the time to join us today for the proclamation signing ceremony."

Holtsford went on to explain that this year, the Family Sunshine Center wanted to bring everyone together to show them one of the programs available to victims of domestic violence. October 1 marked the 7th anniversary of the day their first woman moved into the Exodus Community. Since that time, these eleven apartments have served as temporary homes and refuge to hundreds of domestic violence victims and their children. Victims can qualify to come to the Exodus Community after they have been in the Family Sunshine Center shelter and feel satisfied they are safe to move away from the shelter and have begun to work on a plan to gain independence. They can stay there up to two years while they continue healing from their experiences as victims of domestic violence and the Family Sunshine Center staff helps to restore hope to their lives through assistance in securing employment and developing social, emotional, daily living and other skills that have been placed on hold while they were simply trying to survive.

Executive Director Karen Sellers expressed how overwhelmed they were at the support they have received from the Domestic Violence Task Force Teams from Montgomery County, Elmore County and Autauga County. She focused on the issue of domestic violence being generational, passing from one generation to the next. Boys have to learn to respect their mothers, sisters, and eventually their girlfriends, significant others and wives. She encouraged everyone to place the purple ribbons on their doors back in their own communities. The purple ribbons represent domestic violence awareness and prompt conversations which help to inform those in the community about all that is being done to stop these crimes.

Sellers introduced those government officials present: Chairman Todd Strange of the Montgomery County Commission; Charles Jinright, President of the Montgomery City Council; Prattville Mayor Jim Byard, Jr.; Colonel Atwood from Maxwell AFB; Autaugaville Mayor Ward; Coosada Mayor Houston; Eclectic Mayor White; Greenville Mayor McLendon; Jemison Mayor Reed; and Tallassee Mayor Payne.

standing room only
Standing room only.

Mayor Jim Byard, being the first mayor to R.S.V.P. to the day's event, was asked to say a few words. Byard shared that he was raised by a single mom and he assured those assembled that he was taught to respect women and still does. He went on to say, "Honestly, I was very unfamiliar with domestic violence because unless you're around domestic violence, I know the D.A.'s and police officers will tell you that unless you're around it daily, you just don't know about it."

Byard told an anecdote about how the Autauga County Domestic Violence Task Force came to be. Pat Brown met with him and said that it needed to happen. Byard forgot to call the district attorney. Later, Pat Brown saw him and grabbed him by the ear and asked him how much progress had been made on the establishment of the task force. Byard said he made the call to the district attorney's office and that is truly how the task force came to be.

After the reading of the proclamation by Byard, all of the elected officials rose to sign it. A representative of each task force (from each county) delivered a report of progress made in their respective areas.

Mayor Jim Byard, Jr. is the first to sign the Proclamation.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, a tour was provided of the Exodus Community. For more information about the Family Sunshine Center, please visit their website.

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