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"Run For Peace" Betty Griffin House 5K

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Finish Domestic Violence!

Finish Domestic Violence Forever

Every home should be a safe space. A place to relax, to let loose, a place where you should be able to find solace and peace. Yet for many their home has turned into a place to dread. For those in an abusive relationship, home is a place to fear…where an escape is all they can think of.

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Malinda Everson, Development Director at BGH, helps out on Saturday.

With the help of the Betty Griffin House and the services provided, all a person has to do is make a phone call to the24 hour hotline and safety is just around the corner. Betty Griffin House provides a safe secure shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children as well as rape victims who are in danger. The hotline is staffed by crisis advocates and is available 24 hours a day seven days a week. A rape crisis unit is available for immediate medical and forensic needs of the victim. It takes a community to end domestic violence and sexual assault and the staff and volunteers at Betty Griffin House are here to help win the battle.

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Clay and Lisa Burnett winners of the race.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the Betty Griffin House 5K and award brunch is one of the main fundraisers for the organization. With 564 runners/walkers this year, the run continues to grow. “A lot of survivors and people who used our services came out to support us today,” said Malinda Everson, Development Director at BGH. “The thanks we get is from the people who came and said-I stayed at your shelter.”

Ironically this years male and female winner were a married couple from Cleveland, Ohio. Clay and Lisa Burnett came down to St Augustine to celebrate “true love” and a friend’s wedding. “When we read about the race we thought it would be fun,” said Lisa.

“We are honored and proud to do it for such a great organization,” said Clay after the race.

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83 year old Cleo Smirl and her girls enjoy the day.

Peace is an important issue for some and one family came with four generations to walk the walk. 83 year old Cleo Smirl came with her daughter Cara Reynolds, her grand-daughter Audra Emery and two great-grand daughters, Autumn and Adlie. “I started walking a year ago,” said Cleo “Now I walk about two miles a day!” she exclaimed. The family wore smiles all around as 83 year old Cleo Smirl won a metal in her age division.

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Verna and Nadia volunteer for a good cause.

The award brunch was attended by close to 100 people. With healthy food provided by Salt Life Food Shack, the beach “Peace”  pavilion was decked out like a tropical oasis. Verna Brown made sure everyone felt special and had every table set to the tee. Along with the amazing atmosphere, there were prizes donated by local businesses. Gift sets, fun items, gift certificates and a $900.00 diamond necklace from Carter’s Jewelry were raffled off. The grand prize, an ocean cruise for two was valued at over $1000.00.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone of any sex, race, religion or economic background. The Betty Griffin House Agency is here to help educate the community, provide services and raise awareness of the problems of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in order to break the cycle of abuse.

“It takes a community to end the violence,” said Joyce Mahr, Director of Betty Griffin House, as she spoke to the audience. “You are the voices for the survivors and the hope for the next generation.”

Everyone had to agree…We will never stop the fight for HOPE and PEACE in our own backyard.



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