Victim advocate Yolanda Gay is asking the public to mark their calendars for an event Marietta School Auditorium to honor the memory of Love County residents who have lost their lives to crimes of domestic violence.
The second annual Candlelight Vigil is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, October 8. Guest speaker will be Patricia Dewbre, a survivor of domestic violence. Gay will also give her survivor testimony.
Music will be by Pemberton & Langley, a Southern gospel performing group. John Pemberton is Dickson chief of police.
Agencies and individuals in Love County will be recognized for their support of the Love County Victim Advocate office.
At the closing, those in attendance will hold lights to honor the memories of Love County friends and family members who have died as a result of domestic violence.
Located at 318 W. Main, the office of the advocate arranges emergency shelter for victims and their young children, teaches safety planning, assists with referrals to other social services for food, shelter, clothing, job skills and education, and “helps them rebuild their lives,” Gay said.
“In the last year, we have received about 60 crisis calls and provided services to 50 out-clients. We have assisted with housing searches, arranged personal and group therapy, gone to court with them, and offered emotional support as they transitioned from victim to survivor,” Gay said.
Services are free and can continue for an extended period while victims are assisted in needed aspects of independent living.
A major focus of the office is assisting the schools with presentations and awareness for youth about dating violence, bullying, stalking, and sexual assault, Gay said.
Gay is employed by the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma, a United Way agency. The Marietta office opened in 2005 through an initial $100,000 grant from the Sisters of Mercy - St. Louis Region and continuing support from Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic.
The Catherine's Legacy grants
were established by the Sisters of Mercy in 1996 to honor Catherine McAuley, who founded their order in 1831.
McAuley established the House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1827 to create a safe place to stay for women in distress from poverty, domestic abuse and sexual assault. While in the House of Mercy, the women would acquire education and skills for independent living.
These are the types of services provided by the Love County Victim Advocate and the Family Shelter of Southern Oklahoma.
The Love County Bar Association has sponsored the victim advocate office through Oklahoma Bar Association grants in 2007 and 2008. Other generous awards have been received from the Community Foundation, Inc. of Ardmore, the Sisters of Mercy, the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation of Tulsa, and the Chickasaw Nation.
Much local support and volunteerism have been provided by area churches and citizens.
Advocate assistance is available weekdays by calling 276-2042. The 24-hour hotline number is 226-6424.