Helping ‘every woman’

Published 9:34 pm Monday, May 10, 2010

Many of the women who attended the “Every Woman” event on Saturday at downtown’s Hilton Garden Inn probably did so for all the obvious reasons. They were looking for relaxing spa treatments, for fashion ideas and tips, for good deals on cosmetics and other beauty products.

But all of the 200 or so who attended the event, sponsored by BeautiControl consultant Jen Rousseau, wound up supporting a cause far more important than personal comfort and beautification. Rousseau had brought a small army of volunteer consultants to the event to give Suffolk women an indirect way of supporting The Genieve Shelter, which in turn supports a small and vulnerable part of the community.

For more than 20 years, the organization has provided a refuge for battered women in Western Tidewater. During the early stages of its development, The Genieve Shelter offered a one-bedroom apartment over a veterinarian’s clinic as safe refuge for battered women and their children. Today, the agency operates three emergency shelters providing a total of 18 beds, along with a new apartment complex for women and their children who are transitioning out of the emergency shelters and back into wider society.

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The Genieve Shelter was incorporated as a nonprofit in Smithfield in 1988 by Theresa Connell. Connell had been both a child and adult victim of domestic violence. She eventually married a non-abuser and developed a family that was supportive of her desire to help other victims.

Since then, the agency has helped many women break the cycle of domestic violence by giving them a place to escape, along with counseling and educational resources.

Saturday’s “Every Woman” event may have seemed to be focused on the improvement of external beauty, but in reality, by supporting The Genieve Shelter, the women attending the event were also helping to improve the inner beauty of some badly scarred sisters. It was a worthy effort on behalf of a worthy organization.