These words, spoken by a counselor at an organization like Safe Harbor, made a difference in the life of a girl whose childhood was turned upside down by domestic violence. Now grown up, successful, and committed to helping others, Jennifer Scheller, Vice President of the Safe Harbor board, shared her story at our annual Beacon of Hope event.
Jennifer put the audience beside her as a child observing horrific violence, fearing for her mother’s life, grabbing the phone to call 911, and hiding with her siblings. She shared how so much of the system failed her, how she grew up withdrawn and hopeless until a counselor said those words that gave her the strength to move towards a happier future.
Safe Harbor’s support for youth includes free counseling services for children, age 5 and up, who have witnessed domestic or sexual violence involving a parent or guardian; and teens, age 13 and up, who are the victim of sexual assault/abuse or dating violence. Cindy Capriles, Director of Counseling for Safe Harbor, also addressed the audience at the Beacon of Hope event. She discussed specially designed therapies for younger kids that help them express their feelings without words.
The evening also included the Beacon of Hope Award, created to honor an outstanding individual or agency that has been instrumental in breaking the cycle of domestic violence, sexual violence, or human trafficking within the Richmond community. This year’s recipients were Sister Anne Marie Mack and Toni Ardabell.
Sister Anne Marie Mack and Toni Ardabell have a combined 70 years’ experience in health care. Both women were instrumental in the creation of Safe Harbor’s two human trafficking shelters and have long distinguished careers in which they prioritized helping the vulnerable and the underserved.