We are truly fortunate to have an incredibly talented and passionate group of volunteers and supporters. You bring many different skills and resources to the table in support of our families. You also bring many different reasons for offering your support. We are particularly touched by the stories of those who have felt the impact of domestic violence directly and then put their hearts and minds to work toward ending the cycle of violence for others. We are honored to share “Lydia’s” story with you. What’s your story? We invite you to share why you support Coburn Place.
So I’ve been asked to tell my story of why I’m so passionate about my volunteer time at Coburn Place, a safe haven for women and their children fleeing domestic violence. At first, I thought it was just because I really enjoyed setting up the apartments for new residents. I’m in the interior decorating business so this is “right up my alley”. It really is fun to go “shopping” in the well-stocked storage room full of donated household items. It’s a rush to find just the right comforter and lamp for a young girl about to have a new bedroom. It is very satisfying to stock the kitchen with dishes, food, and even placemats and a table centerpiece.
But the more I thought about it, I remembered sitting in the new volunteer orientation holding back tears because I was still so raw inside after my mother’s passing just a week before. Why in the world was I sitting in that orientation with a bunch of strangers when I could have been snuggled on my couch nursing my grief? I could barely focus on the details of the orientation as I thought about my mom and her life.
It had not been an easy life. After a devastating divorce from my father after 13 years of marriage and 4 children, my mom came back to her hometown and started over. She bought a little pink house and she babysat oodles of children so that she could be at home with her own. Life wasn’t easy but it was good; until she met and married a charming bachelor. It didn’t take long for the charm to wear thin and my stepfather to show his abusive nature — years of tip-toeing around him when he was drinking, years of covering my ears with my pillow trying to drown out the fights, years of escalating physical abuse. Ten years after they married came the culmination of abuse. My stepfather was unemployed, my mother was working nights at the hospital cafeteria, we were home (all five of us now as I had a new brother). My stepfather was drinking and was in a sour mood so all five us fled to the basement, locking ourselves in a bedroom. Sparing the details, the night ended with the police removing him from our home. We had survived. What a relief. Until he returned home the next day. The cycle continued. There was no place to go. There was nowhere to turn. Family violence was a family problem. Life continued. So did the abuse and pain.
So . . . returning to Coburn Place and why I was a volunteer. I wanted to be a part of breaking the cycle. I was helping to create a place for these families to go. I was supporting a wonderful organization for other women to turn to in their time of need. Family violence is NOT a family problem. I was able to wrap myself up in volunteer work to ease my grief and the pain from the past. You could say I found the perfect comforter for myself, too. Life continues and today I honor my mother’s memory by passionately supporting Coburn Place.