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March 7, 2003

Dear Friends,

The month of March, in my calendar, lists these special days around the world; Ash Wednesday, St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day (Spain), First Day of Spring (although those of you on the east coast of the US will not quite believe that!), Vernal Equinox (Japan), and Mothering Sunday (UK). What a wonderful array of holidays. And it is summer, waning into fall down under. I love that we are international now. We are even sending the first "international" Sheila Shawls to Europe next week. We are grateful for all of you.

Tammy (Colonial Heights, VA), Jodi Hill (friend of Silent Witness, Maple Plain, MN), Jennifer Laabs (Grad student, volunteer, supporter, local DV agency, Bismarck, ND), Christine Treanor (Friend of Silent Witness, Mpls, MN, new email address), Julia Prince (Rural Outreach Worker, Coos County Women's Crisis Services, Bandon, OR), Julie Miller (Daughter of a victim of DV, Central PA), Jody Carroll (MO Federation of Business and Professional Women, Lee's Summit, MO).

ATTENTION: If you are a mother, daughter, grandmother or sister of a woman or man who's been murdered in domestic violence and would like to receive a comforting hand made shawl to remind you of the care and love of others please contact me. We have shawls available and would love to give you one. If you know of other women who have a loved one who has been murdered in DV, let us know her name as well. We also have a limited number of scarves for men who are close relatives of murdered women. Thanks. Please pass this word along so the healing can move forward.


This note comes from Gyorgyi Toth, our coordinator in Hungary:
Dear Janet, This [shawl project] is such a great thing!

1. We can put this new form of activism on our web site to the list of ways to help other than working on the hotline. I'll check out all details with the originators.

2. In the mean time, there are two victims, whose relatives would probably be very much touched if they received a shawl from far-far away. One of them is a mother who lost a 12-year old son when her abusive ex-husband took revenge (this is the boy whose story was used in our fall campaign according to her mother's wish). There is a flyer in Hungarian with his picture on it at

The other people are an elderly couple, who lost their adult daughter when -- after several threats and unsuccessful earlier attempts -- her husband strangled her. The couple has been fighting for the custody of their grandson or that they can at least live with their accorded visitation rights, which the guardians (a couple who are friends of the murder!) do not allow. If it is possible, let me know, and I give the names and our address(we would gladly forward them).

*We are delighted to send shawls and hopefully a scarf as well to these
people in Hungary. What sad stories. These shawls will give them some comfort and will remind them they are thought about and loved.

Jodi Finkelstein, Director of the Maryland Family Violence Council and coordinator of SW in Maryland sends us this cryptic note:

I pleased to let you know that Maryland received its first shawl today:) It is quite beautiful.

*This shawl was sent by a wonderful woman in MD who just read our web site and knit a shawl. We will be excited to see who it goes to and how they receive it. More details to follow. MD was the first state to receive an unsolicited shawl.

And this wonderful thanks comes from one of our dear friends, Pat Lupson, who, along with her husband spoke at the march in Washington. They lost their daughter, Gina and two grandsons in an arson fire set by their son-in-law:

I want to let you know about my shawl. Warren and I have become real TV people over the last 9 years. I call it my brain dead time. Anyway, my beautiful Sheila shawl is right where I sit and when I get chilled - which has been often over the last weeks - I wrap it around my shoulders or legs. I instantly feel the warmth and love of the person that made it - along with all the women's memories that we are working so hard for people not to forget - and the "thank yous" of all the women that Silent Witness have saved over the past years. Most importantly - I feel closer to Gina - purple was her favorite color. I also know that I am wrapping myself in the love and support of Sheila and everything she did for all the Ginas in this world. Of course, there's one more "thank you" - that goes to you - the person that keeps Silent Witness on track - the person so focused on domestic violence - the person that never wants to hear another "Gina story" - I am blessed to have you in my life. Thank you!

The wonderful green scarf you sent to Warren has not made it to his neck - for I took it immediately and am wearing it as a neck scarf when I go outside. It's working great - and again I find myself feeling nearer to
Gina. When it gets warmer I'll put it in Warren's closet. Warren thought
it was cool that the "guys" were thought of with this project!!

*What a heartwarming thank you. This, of course, is just what we hoped would happen. That people would feel closer to their loved ones and that they would remember what Silent Witness is doing to keep the memories of their loved ones alive. Silent Witnesses speak more loudly than words.

Massachusetts: We need your help. Here's a Massachusetts Silent Witness Update from Carolyn Kwant:

Our exhibit, which doesn't typically get much use in the winter, has been out and about quite a bit. First in early February, I connected with Albert
Tsai with the Boston University School of Medicine. He helps head up a special group of students dedicated to addressing issues of domestic violence. I was invited to speak and was happy to be received by a room packed full of medical students with our witnesses looking on from the background. They were displayed for a full week and as always commanded such a presence in the room in which they were exhibited. Regis College was also having a week of awareness and education regarding safe dating in relationships and borrowed our exhibit. I¹ll leave it to Julie Bonner who coordinated the whole thing to give more details on that. And on a positive note, Peace at Home received an email in regards to the In Memoriam we contribute to every year in the Boston Globe. In Memoriam is a written memorial to all those people who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence in Massachusetts for that particular year. (You can read the stories on our web site In the News) The niece of one of the women who died wrote an email stating how thankful she was that her aunt was recognized in this way and how glad she was that we were making the public aware of this important issue. I replied by also telling her about Silent Witness, directing her to our web site to view pictures, and offering to make her a commemorative breastplate. It is these little messages now and then, which help me, reaffirm that what we are doing does in fact matter and will indeed make a difference. Our exhibit will also be featured at a performance of the Vagina Monologues the first week in March.

I also wanted to ask people¹s thoughts as to how they get their materials (either having to do with SW or your agency¹s own stuff) out to various organizations and groups. I know many of you have mentioned different campaigns, but I thought this would be a great forum for everyone to make a point to share at least a couple of ideas in your next entry. For example, how do your approaches differ when it is statewide vs. nationwide? How do you attract volunteers? Do you charge a fee for the exhibit rental? Peace at Home recently did a membership mailing with our handbook and coloring book within the state and nationwide (I¹ll let you know how it turns out).We have found that is a great way to find volunteers and we have found that charging a fee for the rental of the exhibit ensures that people will take better care of it. We also have a checklist to make sure everything that is given out is, in fact, returned. And I¹ve got plenty more where those came from, but I¹d love to hear your ideas too.

*This is great news, that Silent Witnesses are being used on so many college campuses. And thanks for sharing these ideas. Let's generate a whole list of things that have worked well for others states and put it on the web site.

Spiritual SPEAKOUT for Violence-Free Families:

The third annual sermon competition, called "Walk the Talk" is in process in the Twin Cities (MN). Three categories of authors were accepted; members of the clergy, students of religious studies, and lay leaders. Prizes are awarded in each category. A panel of three judges reads and evaluates the sermons based on four criteria. At the banquet in late March, all authors will be honored, the winners will be announced publicly and the sermon selected by the judges to be the best will be preached to the audience. We know that spiritual leadership can play a pivotal role in stopping domestic violence. Messages from pulpits often reach the ears and hearts of congregation members in ways that other words cannot, stimulating thought , further discussion and even action on the issue of family violence. Organizers are receiving requests for information on Spiritual Speakout from all over the country. The contact person is Lois Gunderson, Initiative for Violence Free Families,

*Thanks, Lois, for this wonderful program. We know that a lot of clergy, students, and lay leaders are now entering sermons and they are so compelling. Keep up the good work.

We got a note from Jody Carroll, President of Lee's Summit BPW:

At the MO Federation of Business and Professional Women Legislative Meeting in Jefferson City in February our agenda included the film "Senorita Extraviada" (Missing Young Women) .. a documentary film about the serial murders of over 300 working women in Ciudad Juarez Mexico". Judy Ancel, of Cross Border Network for Justice & Solidarity, facilitated the discussion after the film viewing. We also held a workshop on the issues of Domestic Violence; two courageous young women told their "survivor" stories, 13 Silent Witness silhouettes, and a presentation on the basics of Domestic Violence. There were approximately 100 women in attendance. MO Federation of BPW is in the process of developing a Domestic Violence Task force and we are planning to involve our members around the state in the process of eliminating Domestic Violence. Our task force goal -as we develop- is to determine how we can comprehensively impact the issue of DV throughout MO. At which point we'll get our local chapters around the state involved, at whatever level each finds suitable for their size and location. I've been in touch with MOCADV and we plan on coordinating with them as well --no sense in recreating the wheel ..!

* Jody, we'd be thrilled to work with MO BPW around domestic violence prevention issues. We're thrilled that you are so interested and committed.

As a result of our invitation about Sheila's Shawls in the last newsletter we got this note. (Summary of a longer note)

I am an attorney who practices in Pittsburgh, but grew up in the Harrisburg area. [I knew Diane Wallower Brenisholtz from high school]. I found out that she had divorced and then remarried ten years ago. I also found out that she lived in constant fear of her husband who was a controlling and abusive individual (and a handgun collector). Diane finally summoned the courage to leave him and was living with her mother, Jane S. I tried to help her by retaining an attorney for her in Harrisburg and giving her support. I also visited her in Harrisburg to make sure that she was secure and comfortable in her decision to end her marriage.

On July 17, 2001, I spoke to Diane by telephone and she told me that she was going to her home to speak to her husband because he had money to give her to make her mortgage payment. I pleaded with her not to return home, but to handle the matter by mail. Diane assured me that she felt she would be safe and that she was taking her mother with her. The following morning I learned that while her mother sat in her car in front of the house, Diane's husband shot her four times in the chest and then turned the gun on himself.

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