Thomasville, Georgia-- No one knows the importance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month better than the people at a special shelter for battered women and children in Thomasville.
Shelter Manager Shalonda Samuel never knows how her workday is going to go. "I work for Halcyon Home. It's a shelter for battered women and children," she says.
The victims live in modest, but furnished, rooms Halcyon provides free. A fresh room means a fresh start. The healing begins the moment the new residents arrive. "Maybe they just want to talk right then. Maybe they're crying," says Samuel.
2,036 people have passed through Halcyon, many of the smallest ones leaving their hand print on a wall, the older ones just leaving their abusive past. "A lot of people say it's because of the drinking and drugs; not necessarily. There's different things that trigger it; finances, and maybe the perpetrator was raised in an abusive home," says Executive Director, Christine Marsh.
But Halcyon provides a new home, and counseling, day or night, all year long. There's always a staff member on hand. "That staff member will go and pick up the client. No one comes to the shelter," says Marsh.
Because the shelter is such a safe environment, its exact location can't be publicized, nor can any of the residents' stories. But their message comes through just as strong. "Our reward that we get from here is seeing the families move forward," says Marsh.
Those families come from Thomas, Grady, Mitchell, Seminole, and Decatur counties, some even from other states. "I wish I would be out of a job. Or I wish this business would go out of business. But it's not going to happen," says Marsh. "You have to be a special person. Anybody just can't have this job. It gets hard, adds Samuel. But it will continue, thanks to government grants and public donations.
Halcyon Home is one of 45 state certified shelters in Georgia. Its crisis line can be reached at 226-6666.