Family Justice Center to open satellite location on Grand Island, survivor speaks out

The Buffalo News features story on possible FJC office in Grand Island

On May 23, 2017, The Buffalo News posted an article which highlights the Family Justice Centers efforts to open an office in Grand Island. In the article, FJC Executive Director Mary Travers Murphy said a potential free space for a satellite location has been identified and that the FJC has secured a grant to move forward. The full article is available on The Buffalo News website.

Bill Proposed to Require Training for Cosmetic Professionals

A Manhattan Assemblywoman, Linda Rosenthal, is proposing a bill that would make training, like the “Cut it Out” program mandatory for all cosmetic professionals across the state.  The law would not mandate stylists to report domestic violence, but it would make sure all stylists are trained on how to recognize the signs of abuse and how to connect victims with help.  Stylists would be required to complete training when they renew their license.

The Family Justice Center has already recognized the importance of training hair stylists.  Salon professionals are skilled and experienced listeners who are personally interested in those around them and, as a result, victims of abuse may feel comfortable confiding in them – even if they would never tell anyone else.

With this in mind, the Family Justice Center has been providing training to local salons through the “Cut it Out” program.  Local stylists have been trained on what domestic violence is, how to talk to a client they suspect may be experiencing abuse, and how to connect them with resources to help.  The salons were also provided with materials that list the warning signs to look out for as they are styling their customers’ hair, i.e., bruising of the scalp, partner always accompanies the client or waits for them out in the parking lot, or the partner calls/texts the client constantly to verify their whereabouts.

For more information on this proposed Bill, check out a the recent story (below) from WIVB Channel 4, which includes an interview with our Executive Director, Mary Murphy.

If you would like further information on the “Cut it Out” program or would like to schedule a training by the Family Justice Center, just contact Tiffany Szymanek at 558-5272 or tszymanek@fjcsafe.org.

Possible Third Satellite to Open

The Family Justice Center was recently approached by a group of concerned community members from Grand Island.  They had read that in 2016, Grand Island had the highest rate of domestic violence among the towns and villages in Erie County.  They had also experienced the tragedy of losing a friend, colleague, and loved one to domestic violence.

Armed with the disheartening statistics and coping with the tragedy, the group formed a community coalition that attended a Family Justice Center tour and then asked our Executive Director, Mary Murphy, what would need to be done to create a satellite office in Grand Island.  The group, which included the Town Supervisor, had already started scouting locations, researching funding, as well as recruiting volunteers.

As a result, on Wednesday May 24th at 7:00 pm, there will be a Town Meeting held to discuss the Grand Island Family Justice Center Satellite Initiative.  The meeting will be held at the Buffalo Launch Club located at 503 East River Road, Grand Island.  All our welcome to attend to learn more about the proposed satellite, here from members of the coalition that assisted in creating the Family Justice Center’s Amherst satellite, and have any questions answered.

Investigation Discovery Channel to Air Documentary

The Family Justice Center was proud to be part of a documentary that will air on April 25th at 8:00 pm on the Investigation Discovery Channel. Debra Jaeger, a long-time friend of the Family Justice Center, has volunteered her time with the Center sharing her sister’s story at our morning tours. Unfortunately, Deb lost her sister, Jill Cahill, to domestic violence nearly 20 years ago at the hands of her estranged husband. The story of Jill’s death was heavily covered by the media, including the eventual trial and conviction of her husband.

The 20/20 documentary that is scheduled to air focuses on the years following the conviction and the work of Deb and her family to make something positive out of their tragedy. Their determination and diligence paid off with the passing of Jilly’s Law which adds criteria for determining whether to issue an order of protection or bail and allows the court to consider any record of violations of court orders, any history or pattern of threats or violent acts against the alleged victim or others when denying bail.

The producers of the documentary have remarked on how moved they were by Deb and her family and they consider the end product a “true labor of love.” It is a tribute to Jill, her life, and her beautiful family who would not let her life be forgotten.

Ruby’s Room Dedication

Ruby Stiglmeier was a beloved dental hygienist at a popular dental office in Orchard Park, NY.  According to her family and friends, she loved life and she loved people.  She left an indelible mark of joy and happiness on everyone she met.  When her life was ended at the hands of her ex-boyfriend in 2016, her family, friends, and the entire community was devastated, but determined to not let her life be forgotten.  They wanted to turn the tragedy into an opportunity to help others and they truly succeeded in creating a legacy in Ruby’s name.

Ruby’s family and friends held a fundraiser in the fall of 2016 where over 400 people turned out to show their love and respect for Ruby.  The event raised over $25,000 and the family turned to the Family Justice Center to use the money to help other domestic violence victims find a safe way out of the abuse.

On March 29, 2017, the one year anniversary of her death, the Family Justice Center invited Ruby’s family and friends for the unveiling and dedication of “Ruby’s Room.”  Ruby’s Room is the newest addition to the line-up of services available to domestic violence victims at the Center.  The agency expanded its footprint to add on another Client Living Room that is more than just a living room.  Ruby’s Room is also used by the Center’s newest partner, Erie County SPCA’s Paws For Love Program, to provide pet therapy to our clients and their children.  The therapy dogs help clients be calmer, more comfortable and secure and thereby improve their ability to recall traumatic information as they are working with the advocates, police officer, or even testifying before Family Court via web-conferencing.

Ruby’s Room is not only a beautiful sanctuary for clients, but a loving tribute to Ruby herself.  Her life will never be forgotten and her memory will live on.  Ruby will continue to bring joy to others by helping victims find their new, happy, abuse free lives.  Ruby’s Room is now a regular part of Family Justice Center tours.  If you would like to attend a tour and see Ruby’s Room for yourself, just contact Tiffany Szymanek at 558-5272 or tszymanek@fjcsafe.org

 

Voices Ending Violence Breakfast 2017

We are just a few months away from our annual Voices Ending Violence Breakfast on Friday June 9th at the Buffalo Convention Center. We have another powerful one-hour event planned that will be sure to move and inspire you.

The event will highlight all that the Family Justice Center has accomplished in the past year, including the addition of new partners, expansion of our services, and even a potential new satellite! We will also be highlighting the new partnership with the Jewish Federation of Buffalo and their sponsorship of two rooms at the Family Justice Center’s Buffalo office. The Federation sponsored a beautiful new living room for our clients and also gave our “court room in a closet” a face lift. Clients have a much more comfortable space to communicate with Erie County Family Court when using our web-conferencing program.

We look forward to this year’s Breakfast to not only highlight these successes, to unveil our latest Voices Ending Violence video, and to thank all of our wonderful donors, supporters, and friends for helping us achieve our goals and continue to bring safety to so many families!!

If you would like to join us for the event or if your company would like to sponsor a table, please contact Tiffany Szymanek at 558-5272 or tszymanek@fjcsafe.org or register on-line at www.fjcsafe.org.

Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Fellowship

Summary

The Family Justice Center of Erie County is accepting applications for the Ursula Forem Domestic Violence Fellowship, which offers a unique opportunity for recent college graduates (2014-17) and current graduate students to join Erie County’s leading provider of support services to victims of domestic violence. This is a full time (37.5 hours per week) paid position with benefits that will run from July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019 and will report directly to the Executive Director & Development Director.  The Family Justice Center of Erie County provides one safe location for domestic violence victims to obtain a full continuum of services, including, but not limited to crisis counseling, safety planning, court advocacy, and injury documentation to victims of domestic violence and their children. (more…)

2016 FJC Fundraising Breakfast Video

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Lockport domestic violence victim pushing to keep charges against aggressor

Heather Grimmer from Lockport is now fighting to make sure charges are not dropped in a domestic violence case against her ex-boyfriend and former co-worker (William) Scott Leffler. READ or WATCH the full story at WKBW.com.