082015 News for Pawleys Island, Litchfield and Murrells Inlet
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Beverly Kennedy, center, with Anne Hartsell, right, and Chris Woodruff.

Family Justice Center: Giving liberally, group jump starts drive for new shelter

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

The Family Justice Center is $17,500 closer to building a new shelter for victims of domestic violence. “It just fell together at the right time,” said Beverly Kennedy, the center’s co-director.

She received the money last week from Drinking Liberally, a nonpartisan progressive group that meets each week at Pastaria 811 in Pawleys Island. The money was raised this winter through an auction of hand-painted chairs and other furniture. While a new shelter is part of the Family Justice Center’s strategic plan, a committee has just started looking for property, Kennedy said.

The current shelter is rented from the Georgetown Housing Authority. It has 11 beds. “The calls keep increasing,” Kennedy said.

Drinking Liberally is a national network of social groups. “Progressive action through social interaction,” is the motto, said Anne Hartsell, a co-founder and co-host of the Pawleys chapter. “It’s very informal.”

She’s the former director of the housing authority. Two years ago, Drinking Liberally collected donations to get the shelter open. It planned this year’s auction as a benefit to help the shelter expand. “That was the biggest thing that we did,” Hartsell said. Its usual activities include donating items to the Baskervill Food Pantry or collecting back-to-school supplies.

But it was a measure of the group’s support for the Family Justice Center that the only cost for the auction was the food. Everything else was donated, much of it by the 11 committee members, she said. It was the group’s biggest event.

Drinking Liberally occasionally has speakers or visits from candidates, but there are no formal programs. That’s not easy for a progressive group. “Most of us think, ‘How can we do something? Can we help somebody?” Hartsell said.

She and Chris Woodruff, the current housing authority director, focused the group on a domestic violence shelter at a time when the nearest facility was in Horry County. “Our goal was to get a shelter and we did that and we’re done,” Hartsell said. “We’re not into the long-range, million dollar fundraising.”

Since then, the Horry County shelter has closed and efforts to open one have faltered. The Family Justice Center doesn’t ask for an address when a person is referred to the shelter, Kennedy said. But the goal is not to create a regional shelter in Georgetown. There aren’t enough jobs in the area and for women with children that would involve changing schools, she explained.

The Drinking Liberally donation will give the Family Justice Center a head start on its eventual capital campaign. And Kennedy said, helps focus attention on domestic violence in the right place.

“It’s a community issue. It’s not one person’s issue,” she said.

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