By Kevin RiceAnaheim Family Justice Center Foundation leaders this week honored volunteers and others who have contributed to stopping the cycle of violence for hundreds of Orange County families.
“This is an exciting day for our foundation,” said Kerith Dilley, Executive Director of the AFJC Foundation. “The people we are honoring today are not only improving the lives of Anaheim residents, but men, women and children throughout the region.”
AFJC Contributor of the Year was presented victim advocate, Kristal Landry. The Excellence Award was presented to police Capt. Julian Harvey, and the Special Recognition Award was presented to Reel Teens, Real Talk Facilitator, Idalia Lazo, who, with a tear in her eye, dedicated her award to those who take a stand against family violence.
The Volunteer of the Year, dubbed “Grandmother Betty” by Police Chief John Welter, did not want to be recognized, as she believes that the AFJC should recognize the efforts given to change lives, not the individuals. The retired grandmother donates a majority of her time as a volunteer with the AFJC programs.
Prior to the awards being presented, Maria Luz Rodgers, a woman who persisted through 24 years of spousal abuse, was introduced and explained how the AFJC was her only escape. After joining the AFJC’s survivors programs, Luz Rodgers was able to receive a permanent restraining order against her abuser and begin her life anew.
Welter also shared the story of a child who endured family violence.
“A mean bumble bee is always stinging,” the boy “Juan” told Welter. “Stinging everyone and everything. The life of a stinging bee is a bad way to live. The bee would be happier if it wasn’t always stinging”
“Breaking the cycle of violence is very hard to do,” Welter said.
“Juan,” said Welter, “used to be that bumble bee.”
Juan was angry because he, his mom and his brother were the recipients of family violence on a daily basis. Juan soon realized that he was living his life like the bumble bee. Always stinging. But after joining AFJC Foundation’s Children’s Survivor’s Academy, Juan began to realize that this was not the way to live.
After realizing his faults, Juan decided to become a helper and even asked Welter, “Who do I need to talk to about taking this program again?”
“Do something, anything to support our mission to stop family violence,” Welter encouraged. “Even the smallest effort helps.”
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