purse and passion
by DAVID ATCHISON
By DAVID ATCHISON

Home staff writer

Bloodied and beaten, she escaped by hiding in nearby woods next to her home.

Eventually, though, she found a path that led to a new life away from domestic violence abuse.

“I owe my life to them,” said Joy, who found shelter for domestic violence victims in St. Clair County.

Joy temporarily lived at the YWCA’s Our Place Shelter for abused women and their children.

She recalled a time of cigarette burns and broken bones, but now, there’s no more abuse thanks to the domestic violence shelter that became a temporary home to Joy and has for 28 other battered and abused women since 2009.

“The ladies here truly care about you, love you,” Joy told the more than 400 people who attended Thursday’s Fourth Annual Purse & Passion St. Clair Luncheon held at The Beacon at First United Methodist Church in Pell City.

The annual luncheon is a major fundraiser for the YWCA Our Place Shelter in St. Clair County, which has provided a safe environment for abused women, so they could get back on their feet and make a new life for themselves.

“It’s a hand up, not a hand out,” said Christian Smith, assistant director of donor relations and communications for the YWCA Central Alabama, said of the YWCA’s efforts to help domestic violence victims and their children.

She said Our Place in St. Clair County was opened in an effort to provide shelter to women in rural areas of the state.

Smith said the downtown Birmingham shelter can be overwhelming to someone who lives in a rural community, so the St. Clair County shelter provides another alternative, as well as easier access to domestic violence victims.

She said “table captains” invite friends, family and co-workers to the Purse & Passion Luncheon to learn about the YWCA Our Place Shelter and how it reaches out to domestic violence victims.

“We hope they will become advocates of the YWCA Our Place Shelter,” Smith said.

Guests are asked to reach into their purses – billfolds too – for a donation to the YWCA domestic violence victims program.

“It’s so good to be among so many who care about others,” said Suzanne Durham, CEO YWCA Central Alabama.

“…It takes all of us working together to stop and eradicate domestic violence.”

Carrie Leland, the YWCA Central Alabama rural domestic violence services coordinator, thanked everyone who attended the Thursday luncheon.

Leland helps oversee the YWCA Our Place Shelter and she talked about the success since the shelter opened in October 2009.

Since the shelter’s opening, 114 women and 91 children have found shelter at Our Place.

Leland said since 2011, the Justice on Wheels program has assisted with 59 cases, and 1,904 domestic violence victims were assisted through the St. Clair County Court Advocacy Program.

A total of 655 domestic violence victims were assisted through the St. Clair County Court Advocacy Program.

She said 34 young women were able to attend their school proms through the Prom Dress Giveaway program.

Leland said people think domestic violence victims are young, but victims vary in age.

“Domestic violence affects women in all stages of life,” she said.

Virginia Gauld, chair of Purse & Passion St. Clair County, welcomed guests to the luncheon.

“Thank you dear friends for allowing us to count on you to help the YWCA Shelter help others,” she said.

In a program message, Gauld said the community support for the YWCA Our Place Shelter is “phenomenal.

“Because of your generosity and support, your purse and passion, the YWCA will be able to provide the vital services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence,” Gauld said.

Thursday’s fund-raising luncheon raised $54,837.

Contact David Atchson at datchison@dailyhome.com.
© 2012