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Candlelight vigil honors victims of domestic violence

Jennifer Sprouse • Apr 28, 2012 at 11:15 PM

National Crime Victim’s Awareness week concluded Saturday with a candlelight vigil at First Presbyterian Church, 105 S. Boone St., honoring victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Lynn Armstrong, program director for Safe Passage, said the week has been jam-packed with events, but the vigil was extra special.

“It’s a very fitting piece in memory of victims who’ve lost their lives, but to also honor those who help,” Armstrong said.

The night’s events included testimonials from victims, music by Lanny Bodkins, and speeches by John Abe Teague, district representative for U.S. Phil Roe, as well as an invocation from First Presbyterian’s Pastor Louis Imsande. Advisory Board members and First Tennessee Development Director Dale Fair also were present for the vigil ceremony.

Armstrong said a lot of seeds were planted this week with East Tennessee State University nursing students helping promote awareness of domestic violence and fundraising on campus while a sorority worked on a teen dating violence awareness campaign.

Safe Passage, a haven for women, men and children of domestic violence, has been around since 1996 and is a 16-bed facility that provides shelter to vicitms.

“The community has been fantastic in maintaining our house and our grounds and the playground. We just could not do it without the community,” she said.

First Presbyterian offered the space for Saturday’s venue and has been helping domestic violence victims or several years.

“I know they don’t think that they do a lot, through the little campaigns sometimes that they do ... but they do make a difference. They make a huge difference,” Armstrong said. “It’s hard to work with our program because many times they don’t even get to see the person that they help. They just have to have faith that they’re doing it.”

While it was a small ceremony, Catherine Lee, an elder at First Presbyterian, said inspiring only a few with this cause can really do a lot in the long run.

“If we could just influence one to let them know that there is something out there that can help them, to give them support, to shelter them,” Lee said.

While Armstrong said events like Saturday’s are tough when measuring attendance, she said they are still important and people in the community should do their best to help victims in their time of need.

“It’s hard to gauge those. We have had deaths this year unfortunately in our community as a result of domestic violence. This is a reminder of how much even a little bit can make a difference,” she said. “If they need to use a phone, let them use a phone. If they need to get to the police department, help them get there. Whatever that need may be, sometimes it’s something as simple as giving a card with a phone number on it, but let them know there are services out there.”

For information about getting involved and volunteering, Armstrong said to call 232-8920 or the local hotline at 926-7233.

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