October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and sadly, Osceola County was made aware, in the headlines, by a pair of senseless and horrific acts of violence.
First, a male shot his female partner outside of a Buenaventura Lakes gym, then drove to a nearby parking lot and shot himself. A week later, the body of a St. Cloud woman was discovered, and her ex and his family are being held in suspicion of her terrible killing. The familes and friends of these victims of domestic violence with be forever changed, as will our community.
There is help for those in abusive domestic relationships, and they can get it now to survive their situations. It’s called Help Now of Osceola County.
Help Now of Osceola provides a temporary safe shelter for survivors of domestic abuse who are in danger and experience fear of abuse. The agency provides advocacy for any victim survivor of domestic violence and their children in our community and is committed to supporting individuals as they establish violence-free living.
This extraordinary agency is in its 36th year of providing services in Osceola County, but Help Now can’t do it without the community’s support and without others who selfless want to make a Positive Difference in Osceola County.
One way of the ways for the community to come together and support Help Now is through itys very popular fundraiser, the 10th annual Steak and Lobsterfest, which was held Saturday at Osceola Heritage Park.
The night featured a great dinner, raffles and a silent auction, all in the name of supporting domestic violence survivors and responding to their needs.
At the event, attendees were reminded of the unfortunate frequency of domestic violence in our world, and specifically in Osceola County, and how vital supporting organizations like Help Now is to continue making a positive difference.
While the night was centered on raising funds for Help Now Osceola, it was also focused on how domestic violence is still taking place all over the nation, including those October events here locally. So, support of Help Now is vital.
“We know that work doesn’t come from one agency, it comes when we come together,” said Help Now Executive Director Tammy Douglass at Saturday’s fundraiser. “It really speaks me when we’re out doing our events about how much work we have to do by the number of people who don’t know who we area and that we’re here to help, that we as a community recognize that nobody should be abused, and everyone deserves to live in a home free of violence. We stand together to tell the community that this will not happen.”
Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson was in attendance to say that law enforcement is on board to support what Help Now works toward, and implored the public to help.
“It touches us all so deep. Your home is your sanctuary. You have the right to be alive in your homes,” he said. It’s a tragedy that there are people who don’t want to go home to face what’s waiting there,” he said. “We want to be their voice. Their community stands behind them 100 percent. Help Now can’t do it alone. Your support is essential because it runs deeper than what people think. We’re going to do it together.”
When you support Help Now, what does it go toward? It runs a 52-bed shelter to give those in danger a safe harbor, a 24-hour crises hotline (407-847-8562), an outreach advocacy center with legal assistance to provide things like injunctions and restraining orders free of charge, children’s services for kids of those affected, child welfare project to keep families safe and together and — an important piece — prevention programs to try and quell relationship programs before they begin.
“It’s about teaching young people about healthy relationships,” Douglass said. “All services are free, bolstered by public contributions. It is critical that we have a community that comes together, we’ve been touched locally by domestic violence.”
At Saturday’s gala, Douglass and Help Now debuted their new website, helpnowshelter.org, which contains information on how to donate, volunteer and continue its mission — as well as getting help to get on the path of becoming a domestic violence survivor.
If you, or someone you know, is in need of assistance of Help Now, call their 24-HOUR CRISIS HOTLINE: (407) 847-8562.