Parkite’s mother-daughter journal project comforts domestic-violence victims
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that one in four women aged 18 and older in the United States has been a victim of severe physical domestic violence, including rape.
That number is staggering to Park City resident Amy Kellogg that’s why she works closely with Hearts Knit Together, a nonprofit organization in Salt Lake City that offers "joy and order in the lives of those who are escaping domestic violence, or who are seeking refuge from war and violence from around the world," according to its mission.
"The organization works with 16 or 17 domestic-abuse shelters around Utah, including Peace House in Summit County," Kellogg said during an interview with The Park Record. "They put together [comfort] baskets for women and children when they check into these shelters. We collect donations and provide items for these baskets."
On Valentine’s Day weekend, Kellogg wanted to do a special mother and daughter activity with her 11-year-old daughter. So, she came up with this idea to make and decorate journals they could donate to Hearts Knit Together.
"I thought that would be a great item for them and their project coordinator Linda Simmons and her volunteers could put them into these baskets," Kellogg said. "That way the women and children would have journals in addition to the other great things that are in the baskets."
The other items include stuffed animals, towels, toothbrushes, soap and other household items, according to Kellogg.
"They also try to get a feel about what their children like and will go through their donations to see if they can find something from ‘Pokemon’ or ‘Frozen,’ and things like that," she said.
The journal-decorating session was held Sunday, Feb. 15, at Kellogg’s home.
"We invited our friends and there were 20 sets of mothers and daughters between the ages of 6 and 51," Kellogg said. "We told them to bring a fabulous dish to eat and that we would provide all the decorating materials.
"We laid out a huge table with a bunch of notebooks of different sizes and every craft supply you could think of and said, ‘Create,’" she said. "Not only did everyone decorate the journals, but also wrote some messages or inspirational quotes to these women and children inside."
The idea for these journals is to show the women and children who are in these shelters that someone is rooting for them and that they are loved, Kellogg said.
"I wasn’t sure how it would go, but it turned out great," she said. "We made 42 journals and I found myself in tears reading some of the messages that these ladies wrote."
Kellogg took the journals to Hearts Knit Together last week.
"We enjoyed doing this so much that we decided to make this an annual tradition," she said. "It was a great way to spend some purposeful time together."
Decorating journals for those in the shelters can be done by any group, Kellogg said.
"The Girl Scouts can do it or a class can do it for a project in school or in church," she said. "It’s also a good project to orient the kids towards giving and doing something for others, because it’s a safe project that is appropriate for all age levels and it’s something they can do and say they are helping the world."
Introducing youths to important issues such as domestic violence is important to Kellogg.
"For the most part, our kids live a sheltered life in Park City," she said. "It’s a pretty safe place and there isn’t a lot of exposure to domestic violence, but we know statistically that Peace House is a very busy place.
"I have learned that there are children who are the same age as my kids that have to take shelter there," Kellogg said. "So I feel if we don’t talk about it or address these things we are doing a disservice. I have sons who need to know that this is not OK. And my daughters need to know the way they will feel best about themselves is from the inside out, not the outside in, and that way they can know the value of themselves."
Kellogg also sees the importance of exposing her children to service.
"We moved her from Boston five years ago and came from a more blue-collar community and I felt strongly that we were leaving diversity behind and, by doing so, leaving a lot of service opportunities for my kids behind as well," she said. "As a mom, I want them do be able to do something to keep them grounded. My motto is ‘this is your one life, so make it count and go purposefully in what you do.’"
Kellogg connected with Hearts Knit Together shortly after moving to Park City.
"In fact, every year, my kids clean out their rooms and find items such as stuffed animals and toys that they aren’t using and give them to Hearts Knit Together for these baskets," she said. "I try to teach them that they are part of something bigger than they are and not in this tiny bubble."
Kellogg said she is fortunate to have friends with children who think in the same terms.
One of those friends is music and dance instructor Tanya Taylor, CEO of Taylor Productions.
Taylor is known for teaching her students not only to perform, but also to raise awareness through their talents.
"I like that these kinds of projects serve women and the women who receive these journals can see that they were heartfelt and created with love," said Taylor, whose last production raised money for scholarships for women living in South Sudan.
After participating in the journal project, Taylor decided to dedicate her next production to helping a women’s shelter in Salt Lake City.
"These little, incremental steps we take to help the world are so important," Taylor said. "It’s like that Desmond Tutu quote: ‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’"
For more information about donating to Hearts Knit Together or donations for any of Utah’s women’s shelters, contact Amy Kellogg by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org . For more information about Hearts Knit Together, visit http://www.heartsknittogether.org.
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Fans of “Sudan and Me,” a musical written, produced and performed in Park City, can now purchase an album of the production’s songs.