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Here are some of the highlights of the past few years on my journey to being an advocate for domestic violence awareness:
- July 21 – The Walk A Mile In Her Shoes – Stomp Out Domestic Violence fund raiser hosted by The Stilettos and benefitting the Women’s Help Center of Johnstown was held at the Roxbury Bandshell. After some wonderful entertainment by the Johnstown Ballet, I gave a short talk on my experience with domestic violence and why I became an advocate. Then we walked twice around the track at the park. It was a wonderfully fun day and the rain held off until we were done with the walk!
- June 1 & 2 – Calvary United Methodist Church – I joined other women at the Women’s Health Conference. We discussed the importance of emotional/physical/spiritual balance and way to obtain it.
- May 19 – I spoke at a mother/daughter banquet at New Enterprise Church of the Brethren in New Enterprise, PA. The men of the church prepared and served the meal. About 120 women and 30 men attended. They were warm and welcoming and are interested in helping those in the community who are victims of domestic abuse.
- October 19 – Visited SCI – Greene in Waynesburg, PA to speak with about 20 inmates about the effect of domestic violence on the victim. I truly enjoy these talks, especially the question and answer sessions afterwards. I also met a wonderful young lady who was observing this program (Impact of Crime) to impliment it in the prison where she works in Washington PA
- October 21 – The Somerset County Library invited me to hold an “Author Talk” to discuss my book and domestic violence. Thank you to all who attended!
- September 16 – Pages and Light hosted a local author’s meet and greet/ book signing in conjunction with the Annual Scarecrow Festival. I joined three other authors on the lawn under a tent. It was a wonderful day for it and tons of fun!
- July 22 – First Annual Domestic Violence Awareness Walk and vendor show to benefit A Better Choice of Living Shelter and Half-way house. I spoke to the attendees about how important it is for a victim to have a place to go when she needs to leave an abusive situation and this is something our area doesn’t have enough of.
- April 6 – I attended a wonderful program hosted by the Soroptimist in Somerset, PA entitled “In Her Shoes.”. It was a very well thought-out, interactive program that really drove home the variety of options a victim has in their journey to escape an abusive situation and the decisions they must make. In the discussion at the end, I was able to add some input about the situation from a victim’s point of view.
- April 19 – Visited SCI -Somerset, PA for an all-day event organized by Victim Services in Harrisburg. It’s called the Day of Responsibility. There were several speakers, of which I was one. My speech this day was geared more towards forgiveness and kindness, taking responsibility for your actions and your reactions. There were approximately 80 inmates and 20 staff – the largest prison gathering I’ve been a part of. The inmates also write letters to their victims asking for forgiveness and Victim Services then take them to the victims and it’s their choice if they want to read them or not. If not, they will return them to the inmates.
*Note: My participation in speaking and events in 2016 was limited because, at the time I worked a full-time job, usually 6 days a week. I had to use my vacation days to attend most of the events, particularly at the prisons. I had decided to take a month off work in March of 2017 to visit Australia and I had to save vacation days to roll over from 2016 into 2017 so I could go. That limited the days I could use to attend events. It limited me in 2017 also, since I used all my vacation days for that year in the month of March.
- October 22 – Returned to SCI – Pittsburgh, PA, which, by the way, is the oldest prison in Pennsylvania’s the prison system and has recently (2017) been closed. I spoke to the inmates and a few staff and answered their questions. I’m always amazed by the questions I get asked. One that always comes up, and makes me chuckle, is…they wonder if I will ever “fall in love again.” Sweet…
- October 6 – An amazing day! I traveled to Muncy, PA for an all-day Domestic Violence Awareness Event organized by the inmates of this all female prison. Do you know that some female inmates are incarcerated because they are forced by their abusers to break the law and they get caught doing so…and go to jail? I was one of three speakers that day. The lunch was prepared by the inmates and the afternoon was filled with workshops. The House of Hope is what the inmates call their DV program. I got to have some very interesting discussions and hopefully helped some wonderful ladies in the prison that day. It was a very powerful reminder that until we hear the whole story, we should never judge. And also, the “system” can be terribly flawed in so many way
- July 14 – Visited SCI – Laurel Highlands to speak to a group of inmates about the effect of domestic violence on the victims. As always, the question and answer session after the talk is the most interesting part of the day!
- February 23 – Attended a meeting about Teen Dating Violence in Friedens, PA where Katelyn from The Women’s Help Center gave an informative talk about all aspects of abuse during teen and young adult dating years.
- January 27 – I joined the Somerset Book Club at the Somerset Country Club for a delicious meal and a chat about domestic violence and the trials and tribulations of book publishing!
- October 24 – I returned to Pages and Light Bookstore in Somerset, PA to join several performers on Soundstage – a venue for local musicians. This evening’s event was geared to giving a voice to domestic violence victims. I gave a short talk on Domestic Violence before the music started. They donated half of the cover cost to the Women’s Help Center – generous ladies!
- October 23 – All day Domestic Violence Awareness day at Pages and Light Bookstore in Somerset, PA. I was joined by the Soroptimists, The Women’s Help Center, Area Agency on Aging, and I organized a blood drive with the American Red Cross in honor of domestic violence victims.
- October 19 – Another radio interview on our upcoming event. This one was pre-recorded with Jessica Taylor for WKYE and other Forever Radio Stations to be broadcast at various times in the coming days.
- October 10 – I participated in a live radio interview on WNTJ – Johnstown Live with Ralph DeMarco about the upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Day I had organized at Pages and Light Bookstore in Somerset, PA.
- September 25 – I traveled to Pittsburgh, PA today to speak to a group of inmates and staff members at SCI – Pittsburgh.
- June 24 – My first experience speaking in a prison to inmates. Through the organization, Victim Services, based in Harrisburg, PA, I visit prisons and speak to a group of chosen inmates and some staff members about the effects of domestic violence on victims. On this day, I spoke at SCI (stands for State Correctional Institutions) – Somerset, Pa.
- May 2-4 – The Soroptimist ladies took a chance on me and asked me to speak at the North Atlantic Regional Convention of the Soroptimist International at State College, PA. It was my first experience speaking in front of a room full of people. Amazingly, I wasn’t nervous and I believe it’s because I wasn’t speaking for myself. I was, and still am, speaking for victims that have no voice. My speech was well received and I had a book signing session after lunch. I was also joined by my good friend DeeDee McGowan in a workshop we developed on the subject, “Why doesn’t she leave?” It was powerful and also very well received.
- April 23 – Pages and Light Bookstore in Somerset, PA hosted a “Local Authors Night”. Nine local authors camped out, eating, chatting and entertaining the public with our “stories”. It was absolute fun!
- September 24 – I gave my first pitch to a wonderful group of women at a meeting of the Somerset Chapter of the Soroptimists International. I was asking them to join me at Pages and Light Bookstore in Somerset, PA for a day of Domestic Violence Awareness. They agreed and I was elated!
- October 11– My book, Knight in Tarnished Armor and I, were joined at Pages and Light Bookstore in Somerset, PA by the ladies of the Soroptimists, The Women’s Help Center of Somerset and Cambria Counties, and Barb Hauger of Paramount Martial Arts Center who gave us tips on how to be safe.
- October 11 – I spoke with Dr. Parks on her radio show “Interactions” broadcast from Chicago, Illinois about the release of my book and domestic violence awareness.
- October 18 – I was a guest of Leah Bello on the Sunday Magazine radio show on WKYE in Johnstown, PA. I spoke to her about my book, being a victim of domestic violence and bringing awareness to this huge problem.