Communities Urged to ‘Step Up 4 Kids’

Domestic Violence Community annual meeting focuses on kids and making a difference where you are.

The Fairfax County Domestic Violence Community gathered on Sept. 27 for its 7th Annual Meeting, which brings together members of the Domestic Violence Policy, Prevention & Coordinating Council and the Domestic Violence Network for a time of celebration of the work that has been accomplished in the last year while looking forward to the work to come.

Meeting attendees included a range of members of the community — from nonprofit leaders and workers, to Fairfax County Public School officials, direct service providers, and government leaders, judges, community activists, mental health professionals, and family law attorneys.

THIS YEAR, the annual meeting focused on recognizing the importance of making a difference for the most vulnerable in the community impacted by domestic violence: Children.

The DV Community announced the launch of the Step Up 4 Kids Initiative to raise awareness and build a response to children and families impacted by domestic violence. County agencies, Fairfax County Public Schools, and nonprofit partners will form a multidisciplinary Step Up 4 Kids Coalition to guide the development and work of the initiative.

In continuing the theme of Step Up 4 Kids, William Kellibrew, an advocate and speaker on the impact of domestic violence on children, delivered a keynote address to attendees. Kellibrew witnessed domestic violence. At the age of 10, he watched his mother and brother get murdered by his mother’s boyfriend. Kellibrew’s life was spared, and he spent the rest of his childhood and young adult life rebuilding in the wake of tragedy. Kellibrew spoke of three individuals — his grandmother, who raised him; his assistant principal, who recognized when he needed help; and a therapist, who gave him hope. Each individual stepped up and was “the one” when Kellibrew needed them. Kellibrew reminded attendees of their capacity to make a difference, no matter their role.

The conclusion of the meeting recognized various members of the DV Community for their outstanding service to families affected by domestic violence. Rebecca Walters, a senior staff attorney at the nonprofit Ayuda, Inc., was recognized with the Service Provider of Excellence Award for her advocacy and representation of immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Mattie Palmore’s lifelong service to the community as an advocate, mentor, and support for victims and survivors of domestic violence in her community made her the recipient of Community Member of Excellence Award. The INOVA Ewing Forensic and Assessment and Consultation Team (FACT) Nurses were the recipients of the Team Award for Excellence for their consistent, compassionate, trauma-informed care to countless survivors of both domestic and sexual violence through the provision of free forensic and medical evaluations.

The gathering also recognized key members of the community and county leaders who worked to bring about an expansion of the current domestic violence shelter, Artemis House, operated by Shelter House, Inc. The increase in number of beds for county residents fleeing domestic violence will help those at greatest risk keep safe, and thanks to the expansion, shelter will be more accessible to survivors across the county.

THE MEETING was capped off with the introduction of the Inaugural DV Community Vanguard Award to three individuals who contributed fundamental shifts to the delivery and integration of domestic violence services in Fairfax County. Teresa Belcher, Ina Fernandez, and Laura Harris were all named as inaugural recipients of the award for their separate, yet integrated achievements in bringing about a coordinated community response for survivors, children, and those who use violence.

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