By Barbara Gersna
Volunteers from the 1st Theater Sustainment Command wrapped up Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month with some community service at the SpringHaven Inc., domestic violence shelter in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, April 30.
About 30 Soldiers and civilian employees delivered donations collected throughout the month, and then spent Friday afternoon conducting area beautification, which included weeding and spreading new mulch on the playground. They also weeded other gardens and planted flowers and hostas.
SpringHaven’s mission is to educate the community, be advocates for social change, and empower victims of domestic violence. They provide 24-hour assistance, seven days a week to anyone who is a victim of spouse or partner abuse. Their services are also available to any Fort Knox Soldier or spouse who needs help. “People often think that only women need these services, but sometimes men do as well,” Executive Director Tanya Thomas said.
Thomas said, “There has been a pandemic within the pandemic.” She explained that fewer people actually came to stay in the shelter during the past year. “I think victims felt more at risk leaving their living situations with COVID-19, but now we see more calls and counseling.” She also said that she has seen more violence recently.
All of their services are free. In addition to a safe place to stay together with children, they also offer a 24-hour crisis line, counseling, legal advocacy, and support groups. The non-profit agency is funded primarily with grants, donations, fundraisers, and by the United Way.
“We really appreciate all of the donations and volunteers here today,” she added. “We survive on donations, and we couldn’t do all that we do without help from our community.”
Soldiers from 1st TSC said they were happy to help. “It’s always important to help in our community, because a lot of people need help from time to time,” Pvt. Justin Melendez, IT specialist, 1st TSC, said.
Sgt. Shanequlissia Goode, ammunition stock specialist, 1st TSC, said, “I am happy to be here and volunteer. I enjoy doing community service, and I also want to set a good example for the younger soldiers.”
Capt. Nicole McCoy, sexual harassment assault response and program manager, 1st TSC, said, “I am so happy to see so many Soldiers out here helping.” She said that this was an ideal way to wrap up SAAPM.
The playground and the flower beds were all weeded and ready to provide residents with serene outdoor spaces and a clean and safe area for their children to play.
Master Sgt. Nicole Schmidt, sexual assault response coordinator, 1st TSC, said, “Soldiers are great at beautification, that’s for sure.”
U.S. ARMY RESERVE
DEPT. OF DEFENSE
U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY
BEST WARRIOR COMPETITION