Charles Naul, A New Volunteer

VolunteerMatch.com continues to be an outstanding resource for finding excellent people to help our small non-profit grow. First we located JoAnna Smith who redesigned our logo.  Next Shivaun joined our team making contact with domestic violence shelters in five states (California, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon) letting then know about our organization, getting permission to add them to our email list and seeing if they might want a free DVD of our first film, “Peggy’s Story.”  Three writers have written guest posts.  And now Charles Naul has advised us and updated our database so that we can truly expand our reach to more organization in an easy seamless way.

When Charles responded to our request for database help, we received a notification indicating that he was retired from IBM and had extensive experience in building and maintaining databases.  In just a few days he had a model for Shivaun and I to test.  And WOW… does it work.  Now Shivaun simply puts her information in and I can request a report of what names to add to our email list and who has requested a DVD without Shivaun having to do extra work.  We are ready for lots more volunteers who can work at their own pace from their home and I can easy do a report that will summarize all that needs to be done from my end.  If you are reading this and have time and like to talk to people and enter information into a database. please consider helping us. 

It’s been a pleasure to work with Charles and we look forward to getting more suggestions and help from him as we grow.  Charles also uses his background to recycle laptops for Global Missionary Activities so that they can be used in very poor countries.  Thank you Charles! He is index a good example for those of us retired to see how to use our talents in this new chapter in our lives. 

 

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The Teen Experience?

Guest Blogger Kristine Ambrosch reviews our new film “Cheyanne’s Story.”   Kristine Ambrosch is from Queens, New York and is currently an English major at Hunter College.  She has always loved to read and understood early on how the written word has the ability to influence people’s thoughts and actions.  Kristine also loves animals and enjoys doing arts and crafts.

Review of “Cheyanne’s Story”

For many teenage girls falling for a “bad boy” is often harmless.  But for Cheyanne, dating a “bad boy” meant being threatened with a knife.  She felt certain he would kill her. Seeing the young Cheyanne in the Healing Voice’s film relive her violent experience is shocking.  While her classmates were worried about their grades, Cheyanne was worried about dying.

IMG_0320At first Cheyanne thought she could be the one to change her boyfriend’s malevolent attitude.  Even as he elbowed her in the face Cheyanne stayed with him and continued to push away her friends and family.  Her boyfriend further isolated her by deleting her friends’ numbers off of her phone.  Once Cheyanne realized her boyfriend’s possessive manner was dangerous, she was able to go to her mother for help.  However assistance was not easy; the first police officer they went to knew the boyfriend’s father and did not report the crime.

In addition to being physically abused, Cheyanne’s self worth was also being damaged.  Cheyanne’s boyfriend told her that she “looked ugly with curled hair” so Cheyanne stopped styling her hair in curls.  However, once she was able to escape his control with help from a different police department, she curled her hair again and found it made her smile.  This joy in the seemingly ordinary act of curling her hair is a moment in the film when viewers are reminded just how harmful domestic violence can be not just physically but also emotionally.  It is the point when we rejoice with Cheyanne as her curled hair reveals the return of her confidence, a trait that is already difficult for a teenage girl to hold onto.

When the new school year began, Cheyanne was determined to make her story known.  She dedicated her time to researching about teen violence and started the “Say Something Project.”  She raised money for her cause and informed others what she and many others have experienced.  Through the open classroom her teacher provided, Cheyanne was able to share her story with her classmates who were stunned by their peer’s terrifying experience but also inspired by her dedication to helping other mistreated girls.

Unfortunately Cheyanne’s abusive relationship is not uncommon.  However, Cheyanne is unique in that she found the strength to overcome her fear, report her boyfriend to the police even with his retaliation a possibility, and then share with others the horror she and many others endure as high school students.  Healing Voices has allowed Cheyanne to use her newfound voice to inform an even larger audience about domestic violence and how it hurts not only adults but also teens.  Cheyanne’s words encourage viewers to not be like the police officer who ignored her abuse.  Instead viewers are inspired to emulate the strong Cheyanne, her loving mother, and her teacher who created a setting where Cheyanne could safely share and educate others about teen violence, a too often overlooked issue.

 

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Local, National and International Press Coverage on Domestic Violence

The past few days saw some excellent coverage on Domestic Violence.  On a very local level, The Steamboat Pilot/Today featured statistics and stories of what is happening in Routt County, Colorado.  This article resonates with Healing Voices as Board Member Lindarose Berkley lives in Steamboat Springs and our Advisory Board Member Diane Moore, Executive Director of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, is quoted in the article.  A unique feature of the article are two sidebars:  one is a detailed list of warming signs of Domestic Violence; the other defines the different forms of Domestic Violence.  The article opens with relating the most horrific form of Domestic Violence, where the victim is murdered, “all murder-suicides or attempted murder-sucidies have left four people dead” in Routt County.

Board Member, Regina Ress sent this link to an article published yesterday in the NY Times which calls for more aid not just laws in Italy.  Just this year 80 women have been killed in Domestic Violence incidents in Italy. Prime Minister Enrico Letta has called for stiffer laws while critics are calling for more aid for victims before they are murdered.  A UN reports that one in three women between the ages of 18 and 70 will experience Domestic Violence in Italy.  Domestic Violence is also “the most pervasive form of violence” in Italy.  The title of the article says it all “A Call for Aid, Not Laws”.

If you have seen a recent article on Domestic Violence please pass it along.

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NY Times has excellent article on police response to domestic violence.

Healing Voices’s Board Member Regina Ress alerts us to an excellent article in today’s New York Times which looks at the complexity of domestic violence and how the New York Police Department is attempting to prevent women from being murdered.  They have increased the size of the staff who focus on “families with histories of violence”.

They are seeing results with a reduction in the number of murders.  Check out the full article.

 

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A Young Person’s Response to Our Organization

By Guest Blogger, Sarah Lizee- I live in the beautiful state of Washington, where I coach two competitive volleyball teams year-round, stay in good shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Reading and writing is where my heart lies, anything from poetry to short stories. 

I was drawn to your website not because I can relate to it myself, but because I know people around me who can. When I saw Healing Voices, I thought that maybe this would be a good way for me to help somehow, rather than just sit back and do nothing.

Because I’ve never experienced a relationship that consisted of any kind of abuse, the words “domestic violence” haven’t crossed my mind often. It hadn’t occurred to me that so many people were affected by such a horrible thing, until I ran into this site. Not only have I been given knowledge about the facts and statistics, but I was able to hear the account of a survivor. “Peggy’s Story” was filled with emotion, at one point even bringing me to tears. Her struggle was heartbreaking, but her path to recovery was truly inspirational. The film is a perfect example of how strong victims of domestic violence are, and how important it is to take the correct steps toward becoming safe, and experiencing freedom.

After being so moved by what Healing Voices has done, I’ve realized how important it is to arm one’s self with knowledge, and to share it with the public.

Healing Voices is an organization that is doing just what their mission promises: raising public awareness of women striving to overcome abuse. What better way to educate the world than through films featuring people that the public can truly relate to? By sharing the stories of domestic violence survivors, victims can overcome their current situations, and the rest of us can find ways to support the cause. And that is a beautiful thing.

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Book Review – “Unraveling”

By Guest Blogger April Marcom.  April works as a substitute teacher of all grades in her local schools, but her true passion is writing, especially young adult fiction. When she’s not teaching or writing, she’s enjoying the country life with her family and many, many animals.

I don’t think I realized how a woman could be truly trapped in a relationship, with absolutely no way out, until I read this book.

Unraveling, by Dionne Sparrow, is told in a way that made me feel like the author was sitting in front of me, pouring out her difficult life’s story to me. Although it could use a good polish by an editor, it was written in real language, about the very real things she’s suffered through.

After spending some time in The House of Ruth, following a beating severe enough to send her to the hospital, Dee tries to get away from the abusive relationship she’s in. Only a teenager, she’s takes refuge with some out of town relatives. But the abusive x-boyfriend and father of her child finds her and gives her no choice in returning to him. If she refuses, he’ll burn down the house she’s staying in with everyone inside of it. If she calls the police, he’ll break her neck in front of them. So she’s literally left with no escape, for a time.

This is a powerful story that grabbed my interest right away and held onto it until the very end.

Along those lines, Healing Voices will present their second film, which is about high school teen and date violence, in the near future. So be sure and keep an eye out for it!

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Our First Film’s Debut in The Phoenix Film Festival

By Guest Blogger April Marcom.  April works as a substitute teacher of all grades in her local schools, but her true passion is writing, especially young adult fiction. When she’s not teaching or writing, she’s enjoying the country life with her family and many, many animals.

Healing Voices has reason to celebrate! Their short documentary, “Peggy’s Story”, was featured in The Phoenix Film Festival in April among only six others in this category, a great honor for all who were involved.

But before the festival, there was the submission process. JoAnne Tucker, President of Healing Voices, was guided by filmmaker, David Lindblom, in navigating www.withoutabox.com. Here, they found numerous film festivals and had to consider things like which one:

o   was in driving distance of their home base in Santa Fe

o   had a category for short documentaries

o   seemed interested in community and community concerns

After months of waiting, following the film’s submission to just the right festival, imagine the joy and relief of those at Healing Voices when they heard that it had been accepted.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch this film (viewable at http://hv-ps.org/Peggy.html), “Peggy’s Story” is the account one woman gives of the decade and a half she spent in an abusive marriage and the escape she and her son eventually made. Created to help fulfill the mission of Healing Voices, which is to raise public awareness of women striving to overcome abuse through the creation and distribution of film and video, this emotional and beautifully made film also gives some insight to those of us who have never been through what she has.

Everyone from Healing Voices who was involved in the Phoenix Film Festival had a wonderful time and received a great deal of positive feedback during the Questions and Answers period following each of the two showings, and then afterwards when people stopped them to let them know how meaningful they found the work of this organization.  Peggy was unable to make it to the festival, so Christy O’Neil from the Esperanza Shelter in Santa Fe was able to join Healing Voices and handle any questions relating to Peggy during the Q and A.

As you can imagine, along with “Peggy’s Story”, the festival was filled with creativity and talent. A couple of films that stuck out to JoAnne and Lynette were:

o   “Misa’s Fugue”, a documentary about the holocaust which was created by a professional film crew and high school students

o   “Ninah’s Dowry”, which dealt with domestic violence in Africa

In addition, I would like to share a couple of responses given to the questions I asked JoAnne and Lynette Montoya, Vice President of Healing Voices, in an interview regarding The Phoenix Film Festival:

Interviewer:  What was your favorite part of the festival?

JoAnne:  First of all, I don’t think I had any idea when we applied of how big the festival was. There were six or seven theaters playing programs in each time slot. The sponsors of the festival were STARZ and COX, and it was very well organized.

In the short documentary program there were only seven films and I was very proud that “Peggy’s Story” was a part of this program. So I guess you could say my favorite part was simply being a part of such an excellent festival.

Lynette:  My favorite part of the festival was everything.  As filmmakers we were given the VIP treatment.  That certainly made our volunteer work seem valued.  We saw 5-6 films a day.  I have never had that experience previously.  I was fortunate to watch some amazing films, including other short films done by high school students.  It was great to see the passion and the diversity in all the films that were shown.

Interviewer:  Did you have any experiences while attending the festival you’d like to share?

JoAnne:  This was the first film festival that Healing Voices has been in and that I have attended and it was indeed an honor to be there.  Filmmakers were treated with much respect and it was a great learning experience.  And it was fun going from one film program to another, socializing, and meeting other filmmakers.  It also felt very satisfying and good to be fulfilling our mission of increasing awareness related to domestic violence.

Lynette:  I was fortunate to meet other filmmakers, producers, and cast members, and we were able to speak with them and ask them questions 1 on 1 and in groups.  We left the event filled with knowledge and pride in our 8 minute film.

Through the involvement of Healing Voices in this festival, many were touched by Peggy’s story and by her selflessness in sharing it with the world.

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