Shelter hosts 30-year anniversary gala

Published 6:16 pm Thursday, September 13, 2018

More than 200 people commemorated 30 years of the Genieve Shelter providing services in Suffolk at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront on Friday.

The 30th Year Anniversary Diamonds and Pearls Gala featured food, entertainment and silent and live auctions.

The Genieve Shelter offers a safe refuge and supportive environment for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. In addition to providing refuge, it provides information, education and training services that focus on ending the cycle of violence.

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“We’ve got a shelter, and we have to pay it off,” said Nora Butler, president of the Genieve Shelter board. She said paying off the shelter — a goal to which the shelter hoped to get closer on Friday night — is important, because it will allow the shelter to purchase additional buildings to shelter more people.

“The shelter is always full,” Butler said.

About 200 people enjoyed food and catching up with friends while the gala got started. They then heard from WAVY-TV10 anchor Anita Blanton, who spun a metaphor related to her recent experience of a flat tire.

“Life itself is a journey,” she said. “We’re riding down the road of life, but sometimes there’s problems under the hood. We’re known for dressing up problems, women especially. We run, run, run and never really take time for us.”

Blanton urged those in attendance not to ignore warning signs, no matter what they are.

“Sometimes the warning signs are isolation, mental control, all before there is an issue of physical abuse,” she said.

“Each person here possesses something great, something God gave you for a reason,” she continued. “Should you end up on the side of the road, don’t just sit there, pick up the phone and call someone who can help.”

The guests also heard from Kim Ellis, who was a victim of domestic violence and got help.

“I was so hopeful things would change,” she said. “No matter what I did, I did not deserve to be hurt.”

She illustrated that sometimes, the things keeping domestic violence victims with their abusers aren’t always practical restraints, like money — sometimes, they are psychological.

“I knew that if I left, I would have to give up the dream of the perfect family,” Ellis said.

But she did eventually leave after 11 years and now is in a great marriage with a loving man, and they have seven children in their blended family. She enjoys producing art to illustrate what she’s been through.

“Because of the path I walked, I can help other women’s lights shine bright,” she said.