It’s been 11 months since my family was rocked by domestic violence. My 23-year-old cousin Taryn Simmons was fatally shot by the father of her child after a confrontation about child care. A month prior to her death, she sought and was granted a protective order, but that would not be enough to keep her from her untimely death which occurred right in front of her infant child.
As we tried to find ways to grapple with our tremendous loss, my mother and I searched for opportunities to help raise awareness about domestic violence. Several months after Taryn’s death, I met Stephanie Brown, volunteer and community education coordinator for Hubbard House,a full-service certified domestic violence center based in Jacksonville. She gave a moving and informative presentation about the subject at Watson Realty where I work as a luxury realtor. After the meeting, we exchanged information and I told her about the impact domestic violence had on my family and my cousin’s death earlier in the year.
Because of that experience with Stephanie, our office adopted a family for the holidays and raised money for the organization. I also volunteered to work in Hubbard House’s Toy Store and Mommy Store and toured Hubbard House. It was very emotional, but learning about the important work being done there was critical to better understanding domestic violence.
I was so excited to learn Watson was continuing to support Hubbard House, as well, when John Nadler, vice president and managing broker, shared an opportunity for our team to serve as volunteers at the agency’s 12th annual Stand Up & Stride Domestic Violence Awareness Walk.
At the event, held at the Duval County Courthouse, Hubbard House CEO Gail A. Patin discussed the impact of the pandemic on survivors of domestic violence. She applauded the community for their support and for the many lives that were saved and changed, and encouraged participants to continue to spread awareness about domestic violence and Hubbard House’s 24/7 domestic violence hotline numbers on social media.
“By sharing, you’ll not only create awareness of the problem—domestic violence—you’ll also create awareness of the solution, which is Hubbard House,” said Patin. “You may even reach someone … save the life of someone in your circle who needs help but doesn’t know where to turn.”
Mom and I joined more than 400 participants in this year’s event including representatives from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office, military personnel, health professionals, and corporate and community members from around Northeast Florida, all walking together to show unified support for Hubbard House and survivors of domestic violence.
In addition to moral support, Stand Up & Stride raised more than $55,000. These donations will go to support the emergency shelter, programs and services that Hubbard House provides to survivors of domestic violence and their children free of charge. Hubbard House has offered these life-changing and life-saving services for 44 years and serves Duval and Baker counties.
I was grateful to walk in my cousin’s honor, and I pray that those who are in need of these types of service will turn to the team at the Hubbard House for support. They truly are life savers.
If you or a loved one is suffering from domestic violence, the Hubbard House 24/7 Hotline can be reached at (904) 354-3114.