I wrote this for work but I love this organization and the people there were incredibly kind and passionate about what they do.
The issue of domestic violence has made headlines recently, from high-profile athletes to family disputes gone terribly wrong. While the videos and police reports are shocking, it all seems far away. This Christmas, our company decided to make a difference by foregoing secret Santa’s this year to give to our local Center for Family Justice, one of 85 centers worldwide that offer a coordinated approach to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and sexual assault. Annually, our Center serves over 10,000 people primarily in the towns of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.
The employees of SFA bought gift cards of varying amounts and the total was matched by the company’s owners, Mark and John. Our office manager, Julie, contacted the Center’s Director of Development & Community Outreach, Sarah Smith Lubarsky, and we were invited to hand deliver the cards and take a tour of the facility. What we learned was eye opening.
There are two things that struck me as we arrived at the Center’s offices in Bridgeport: 1) the secured door that you have to be buzzed through and 2) the mural that greets you. As for the door, it’s the first sign of the Center’s absolute focus on client confidentiality. Sarah repeats this as we talk, “Our services are free and strictly confidential.” Secondly, there’s the mural. It’s a painting of handprints and at the center it reads, “Hands are Not for Hitting.” On each hand is written other things hands are “for” like Signing, Writing and Playing.
Sarah shows us counseling rooms and interview rooms filled with comfortable chairs, children’s books and toys, and drawing materials. Here victims and advocates meet, supported by a multi-disciplinary team (police, legal, DCF and others), to gather evidence, accept counseling and receive care in their time of need. The Center also provides:
· A 24-hour confidential hotline
· Community education and prevention training
· Bilingual crisis counseling and safe housing for families fleeing abusers
· Criminal and civil court advocacy
· Counseling to women entering and leaving prison
· Access to job training, health and wellness programs
Continuing to help the families in our community is a function of the Center staying operational through donations and fundraising. The Center for Family Justice hosts a variety of educational and fun events throughout the year including: Ride Against Child Abuse for bikers, Bowling Against Bullying and Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, with Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara walking down the Post Road in pumps to focus attention on domestic and sexual violence.
We support the all the staffers, volunteers and brave families who get help through the Center for Family Justice. And we hope that someday, their work can come to an end.