Members of Great Falls Friends and Neighbors (GFFN) Philanthropy Committee presented a donation check for $5,500 on Jan. 26 to Joe Meyer, Executive Director & CEO of Shelter House, and Nurjan Ahmedova, Director of Development, to support the organization's 24-hour emergency shelter, Artemis House for domestic and sexual violence victims, stalking, and human trafficking.
June Kelly, Vice-President of GFFN Philanthropy, said the 14 women in the group raised funds for the donation through two programs they held in 2020, the Harvest Tea and sales of the Official 2020 White House Christmas Ornament. With income predicted to be reduced due to the coronavirus's impact, members expanded advertising and sale of the ornaments to GFFN's website and Facebook page, NextDoor, and businesses outside Great Falls.
"This will really help the women and children of Artemis House," said Meyer. "Thank you very much."
According to Meyer, many of the women entering Artemis House are actively fleeing domestic violence, rescuing themselves and their children from potentially life-threatening situations. The 56-bed program helps survivors, households with and without children, stabilize after traumatic experiences and transition to safe housing away from their abusers. "GFFN has always put women first…Support over the past 15 years has made tremendous impacts on how many lives we've been able to save," he said.
Meyer shared the story of a woman whose name he changed to protect her identity. He said that “Lisa,” who lived in Fairfax County, called Artemis Hotline in the middle of the night after her husband left to work the night shift. She explained that her husband had put a gun to her head and threatened to kill her when he returned.
Meyer said, "This was not the first time he physically assaulted her. For the past year, he would mentally and physically abuse her until she had no choice but to give in. He had brainwashed her into believing that he would get custody of the children because he was the primary breadwinner. Artemis House immediately coordinated a safe exit for her and her children from the home. When she entered shelter, she was able to create a safety plan and press charges against her husband, who is now serving five years in prison for his assaults. 'Lisa' is now living independently with the support of Shelter House's Domestic Violence Supportive Housing program."
Shelter House is a community-based nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, safe housing, and supportive services to homeless families and domestic violence victims serving all of Fairfax County. To learn more about contributing to Shelter House, visit the organization's donation page.