Grand Island Satellite finds permanent home

Grand Island Satellite finds permanent home

Grand Island Satellite finds permanent home

A crowd of more than 50 interested people gathered at Trinity Church in Grand Island on Thursday, January 9 th , to hear the wonderful news: the Family Justice Center has secured a permanent home for a Grand Island FJC Satellite Office.

The space, a former parsonage for Trinity Church, will get a top-to-bottom makeover and refurbishment in early 2020, with plans to open to clients in late-Spring or early-Summer 2020. Located at 2074 Whitehaven Road, the home is in a central location on Grand Island, with easy access to NFTA bus routes, and the 190 Thruway.

“This is a dream come true – to finally have a home for the permanent location for the FJC on Grand Island,” said FJC Board member and Grand Island resident, Karen Panzarella-Brodie. “I am so excited to get our community involved. There is something for everyone: from fundraising, to landscaping, to helping renovate the home, getting trained to be a volunteer at the satellite. We can all get involved and show anyone who is in an abusive relationship that it is not their fault, and we are here in any way you need.”

Panzarella-Brodie, who Co-Chairs the Grand Island Committee with fellow Survivor, Laura Lewis Mason, talked about how the need for services on Grand Island is critical. “Domestic Violence is everywhere, in every community. It doesn’t matter where you live: it is in our neighborhoods. We need to open our eyes and our hearts, and display intolerance for this public health crisis that is taking people’s lives and destroying families. The days of looking the other way need to be gone, and we all need to take responsibility for talking – without judgement – to those we suspect may be in an abusive relationship….and directing them to the Family Justice Center.”

The FJC is working with a general contractor on all updates to the space, but will have volunteers and room sponsors involved in the design of each room.

“We want the space to be cohesive as a whole, but are looking forward to each room having its own personality. We want all spaces to be comfortable and welcoming to our clients, as they are in Buffalo, Orchard Park, and Amherst [FJC locations] already,” said CEO Mary Murphy.

The FJC is currently recruiting volunteers and organizing teams to put plans into motion as the space moves forward to serve clients. Volunteers will be needed to assist with fundraising and sponsorship of rooms, landscaping, outreach, and to volunteer on-site once the satellite is open for business.

If you are interested in volunteering in any capacity, please contact Marcey Bryant at (716) 558-5295 or mbryant@fjcsafe.org. To donate, please visit www.fjcsafe.org/donate.

Photo caption: The Grand Island Dream Team leaders at Rachael’s Warrior Foundation shared storied and information at the January 9 th meeting. (Top row, from left: GI Team Leader Laura Lewis Mason, Pastor Kevin Slough of Trinity Church Grand Island, GI Team Leader Karen Panzarella-Brodie, Rachael’s Warrior Foundation Co-President Mark Wierzbicki, FJC CEO Mary Murphy. Bottom row, from left: GI Team Leader Jessica Mazgaj, Rachael’s Warrior Foundation Co-President Lauri Wierzbicki)

Thank you, Holiday Helpers!

Thank you, Holiday Helpers!

Thank you, Holiday Helpers!

“He emptied the bank account the day before I was going to shop.  I had nothing for my kids for Christmas.   You are all angels!”

These are words from a client, as FJC staff and volunteers loaded her car with Christmas gifts.  Everything from toys and clothes for her three children; to home goods, toiletries, and gift cards for groceries and gasoline for mom.    The tears welled in her eyes, as she thanked the FJC and drove off to the safe place where she and her children will spend the holidays, away from her abusive husband.

For many, the holidays are thought of, and looked forward to, as the best time of the year.  For victims of domestic violence, however, the holidays can bring difficult expectations, financial pressure, and increased stress levels.   For this time of year, celebration and joy can be replaced with fear and uncertainty.

Stories of emptied bank accounts, gifts stolen by abusers, and financial control are often shared by FJC clients during the holidays.  Thanks to a dedicated group of donors, the Family Justice Center is able to help some of the most in-need clients each year, through our small-but-mighty adopt-a-family program.    Clients are able to share wish lists with FJC Advocates, which are then anonymously shared with donors, who do the shopping. 

And then come the deliveries.   Boxes and bags filled with toys, clothing, diapers, toiletries, home goods, gift cards, and more: all for the FJC client families who need it most.  The Family Justice Center offices downtown start to look less like offices each day, and more like Santa’s workshop.

In 2019, former FJC client Rebecca* called to adopt a family for Christmas.   She and her children had been on the receiving end of the program in 2018, and she wanted to pay it forward.  

“You saved us.  You saved Christmas last year,” she said.  “I don’t know what I would have done without getting this help last year.  It would have been a very sad Christmas.”

Rebecca and her children shopped this year for a family similar to theirs:  a mother and her children, temporarily living with a friend to stay safe from an abusive husband.  With a twinkle in her eye, she delivered the gifts to the FJC, knowing that it would bring smiles and happiness to this family, the way it did to hers.

Our holiday adopt-a-family donors help our clients during a very emotional time, and a special time of year.   The ice and snow of the season is no match to the warmth and generosity of these caring, thoughtful angels.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the Family Justice Center at (716) 558-SAFE (7233), or visit a service location to speak with a domestic violence advocate.    With safety planning, access to legal support, a forensic medical unit, and a team of advocates who care; the Family Justice Center can help bring safety, hope, and healing to clients during the holidays, and the rest of the year as well.

*Name has been changed for anonymity.

Channel 2, Ewing held accountable for failing domestic abuse victims, survivors

Channel 2, Ewing held accountable for failing domestic abuse victims, survivors

Alan Pergament from The Buffalo News 

I’ve long been highly complimentary of WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) reporter-anchor Claudine Ewing.

Anyone who read my January 2017 feature calling her “arguably Buffalo’s most underrated broadcast journalist” on her 25th anniversary in broadcasting likely realizes that.

Domestic violence survivors and victims deserve better from journalists

Domestic violence survivors and victims deserve better from journalists

By Sonia Hassan / SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

I never wanted the public spotlight – and I certainly never wanted it for this. But 10 years ago, the night my family lost our strongest protector, we also lost our anonymity forever. Survivors are often left to the mercy of the public narrative. In our case, the news media – specifically the local news media – actively worked with our abuser to dictate what that would be.

Family relieved as man accused of killing Rachael Wierzbicki is returned to jail

Family relieved as man accused of killing Rachael Wierzbicki is returned to jail