Family Services rallies nine groups to launch the Family Violence Prevention Initiative

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BY TEVIN STINSON |  Photo by Daryl Shaw  |  Event Photo Gallery

THE WINSTON-SALEM CHRONICLE 

Family Services isn’t pulling any punches in the fight against domestic violence here in Forsyth County.

Holding fast to their mission to help families and children reach their full potential through community partnerships, last October, Family Services rallied nine local organizations from every sector of the community from faith-based organizations, to the local colleges and universities, and law enforcement to launch the Family Violence Prevention Initiative.

“We believe that the ideas and commitments from these local action groups will start to create a community in which family violence is brought out from the shadows and addressed so that all children and families can thrive,” said Family Services President and CEO Bob Feikema, who convened the Family Violence Prevention Initiative.

Following weeks of deliberation, and studying among the organizations, on Wednesday, Feb. 22, organizations came together to unveil their “action plans.” According to Kenyetta Richmond, who serves as the coordinator for the initiative, each organization participated in a series of five facilitated sessions where they studied family violence from the vantage point of the organization. Then, each organization identified ways they can reduce the number of family violence cases in the area.

“I was really impressed with the dialogue, the enthusiasm and the commitment of all our teams. Real change in the community takes commitment and that’s what we have here,” Richmond said.

Dr. Eric Tomlinson, CEO of Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, presented his team’s action plan first during the event held at the Milton Rhodes Center. He said his organization will host a series events and training sessions to support the initiative. The Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County will host a series of arts-related events addressing family violence.

Connie Quinn, who spoke for the Arts Council, said the learning sessions were eye opening. She said during the first meeting they realized that the arts could play a major role in the initiative by bringing people together.

“Art is something that can really level the playing field when it comes to domestic violence. It is accessible no matter what your social economic state is, no matter what gender you are,” continued Quinn. “It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, poor, or where you come from, it levels the playing field for everyone and we carried that theme throughout each session we had.”

The Forsyth County Health Department will incorporate a step-by-step flow chart to assist advocates and healthcare workers with the process required to help victims obtain the proper help they need; while the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office will focus their efforts on offenders.

Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Drexel said they will be implementing a “focused deterrent approach,” that will offer support services that focus on offender behavior. Drexel mentioned a similar initiative is currently being used by the High Point Police Department.

Representatives from the Hispanic League, Salem College and Winston-Salem State University made presentations as well. The Hispanic League will look to educate children on family violence by starting a campaign like the anti-bullying campaign we often see.

Salem’s action plan will be geared toward address-ing campus safety and providing appropriate care and support for survivors.

WSSU is looking to add activities that focus family violence to this year’s Homecoming celebration and the week-long freshman orientation known as Ramdition. The WSSU team is also work-ing on the development of an interactive phone app to help deal with domestic violence.

Although they did not present their action plans last week, Love Out Loud, a local nonprofit faith-based organization, and Union Baptist Church will be participating in the initiative as well.

The next step for the Family Violence Prevention Initiative is putting their action plans into motion. During her closing remarks Richmond said, “We’re not done just yet.

“Now is the time to put these action plans into play. We don’t want these wonderful ideas to sit on a mantle and get dusty,” she said. “I know this is going to be transformational for our entire community, so we’re going to make sure these plans get off the ground.”

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