By Shelia Huffman
Genesis Women’s Shelter and Support celebrated its 25th annual fundraising luncheon Friday, May 11 at Dallas’ Hilton Anatole Hotel. Nearly 1500 people gathered in the Chantilly Ballroom to support women and children who have been victims of domestic violence and abuse.
The staggering statistics are that this year alone more than 1300 clients will turn to Genesis seeking help and hope. And one in three teens will be involved in an abusive relationship.
“It could be me, my friend or my sister, which is why it is important for women to stand together,” keynote speaker actress, director and two-time academy award winner Hillary Swank said. “And because there are women who feel as though they may deserve to be abused, it is so important that organizations like Genesis has their back,” she added.
Swank is an advocate for women and for animals. The 43-year-old says she loves dogs and her mom and dad.
She has spoken against sexual assault and domestic violence in PSA announcements like “Speechless,” created by the Joyful Heart Foundation for the national anti-abuse movement “No More.”
Campaigns like “No More” and others like “Me Too” are helping boys and girls look at everything through different eyes, Swank said. “And, it speaks volumes for parents who are teaching respect for others to their children.”
The luncheon co-chairs were Jane and Michael Hurst. Other highlights of the afternoon included the Jane Doe Award and the Genesis HeRO award.
Recipient of the Jane Doe Award was Legal Aid of Northwest Texas. Bestowed in honor of the thousands of women who must remain anonymous as they flee domestic violence, the Jane Doe Award recognizes individuals and organizations who stand alongside these women and their children. Legal Aid of Northwest Texas has provided legal representation to low-income families and has been a partner of Genesis for many years.
The Honorable Roberto Cañas, presiding judge of Dallas County Criminal Court #10 was honored with the HeRO (He Respects Others) award that celebrate men who use their voice and influence to take a stand against domestic violence. Criminal Court #10 holds Violence Mentor Courts and Judge Cañas has spearheaded a program to keep guns out of the hands of abusers.
For more than 35 years Genesis has provided safety, shelter and support for women and children who have experienced domestic violence.
They list five ways to help a friend who may be experiencing violence in their home or be in an abusive relationship:
1. Believe her
2. Don’t blame her
3. Help her begin to think about safety planning
4. Refer her to Genesis
5. Continue to provide support
Genesis does not receive government funding. It is only thorough support and donations that the organization is able to offer life-changing and life-saving services at no cost to clients.