The Anaheim Family Justice Center and its home have new names.
The center is now called the Orange County Family Justice Center to reflect its expanding service area.
And the facility will be renamed after retiring Police Chief John Welter to honor his vision in creating it.
About 150 city and business leaders gathered at Anaheim Hilton last week and raised more than $50,000 to support the expanding center, which aims to stop the cycle of violence by providing services to women, children and elderly victims.
The highlight of the evening was a speech by a young survivor named Sarah, who was nearly beaten to death by an ex-boyfriend. She said it was the justice center and Anaheim police officers who saved her life, and then were by her side through every step of the legal process – from helping her recover physically to accompanying her at court appearances.
Sarah said the center “made sure my voice was heard and calmed my anxiety. I cannot express an appropriate thank you. I will never stop thanking you for how you turned my world right side up.”
It’s helping women like Sarah that led Welter to create the center seven years ago. As a young detective in San Diego, Welter said it “hurt my heart” to see children at violence calls “cowering in the corner.”
Since the center opened, it has served more than 20,000 families.
“What are women like Sarah going to do?” Welter asked. “Who’s going to help them? The reason why so many women return to abusive relationships is because they don’t have any choice. … We are making a real difference in people’s lives.”
At the event, Councilwoman Lucille Kring announced plans to rename the building after Welter. Kerith Dilley, the Foundation’s executive director, also renamed the annual Community Partner award after the chief. This year’s recipient, Barbara and Greg Gerovac, owners of Anaheim Brewery, donate $1 for every barrel of beer they brew, as they have since they opened. The foundation also honored Skechers as its corporate partner for providing 351 pairs of new shoes to children victims over the past four years.
Welter was involved in the creation of the world’s first justice center in San Diego 11 years ago. Today, there are 80. Welter said he plans to spend time during retirement helping to grow the number.
This story was published on OCRegister.com.
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