Peace House helps deliver cheer during the holidays
When Peace House, Inc. Executive Director Jane Patton needs inspiration, she says she doesn’t have to look far. The walls of her Sidewinder Drive office are covered in vibrant pictures drawn by children from the shelter. Some of the artwork speaks to the suffering that comes from domestic violence, but the drawing she hangs behind her desk is one of hope: a girl swimming in an ocean, towards the sun. The message of that drawing reflects The Peace House’s attitude on its 10th anniversary, according to Patton. "We’re in a very good place right now If you ever need to get inspired, just come to one of our meetings," she says. Support and awareness throughout the community is high, Patton says. The Peace House has just received it’s largest donation from The Park City Board of Realtors Philanthropic Foundation’s Luxury Home Tour totaling $100,000 — beating last year’s check by $4,000. "There isn’t a day my heart isn’t touched by what families are going through or by the people who help and support Peace House," Patton says. The shelter and community outreach program is currently seeking volunteers for its 2005 Holiday Helpers program, which allows members of the community to adopt a Park City, Kamas, Coalville or Heber City family that live at or below the poverty line. Holiday helpers donate $20 gifts to members of each family. Last year, the community supported 90 families, Patton reports. Beyond donations, the Peace House gets a lot of support from local businesses and clinics. Peace House allies itself with Mountainland Community Housing Trust for affordable housing, The Utah Department of Workforce Services for employment, Valley Mental Health for counseling and The People’s Health Clinic. Jeannie Edens, who heads The Summit County Attorney’s Office Victim Assistance program, works with the Peace House often. "The people who run Peace House understand not to judge victims, and they give victims as much as 30 days to live there for free so that they can get the help they need," she said. Edens explains that it is hard to gage how much domestic violence exists in Summit County, since the numbers often rely on victims reporting on husbands, brothers and fathers. In 2004, Edens says she handled a little more than 70 cases, and this year she expects to handle 100. "The Peace House is a much-needed organization," Edens explains. "It would be difficult to do my job without them because when you have a woman who isn’t safe and she has no support or any other place to go, it can be a hard to thing to help a victim and that makes it hard for them to leave." Edens says that typically, a domestic violence victim will leave their abuser up to 10 times before she (or he) leaves for good. "It’s important for people to know that there are a lot of good reasons why victims don’t leave. They often don’t have jobs or anywhere to go if they leave," she explained. Patton adds that domestic violence knows no borders it crosses every race, economic bracket and gender. "It can happen in any type of family." Lately awareness of domestic violence in wealthy "upscale" families has surfaced, according to Patton, which came to the forefront with a book called "Not to People Like Us" by Susan Weitzman. "A woman can have the economic means, but it can still be difficult to leave, especially when a spouse has control of the money," she explained. "A lot of times she may feel that if she leaves the relationship she has nothing, but legally, she is entitled to quite a bit." Peace House evolved from the Domestic Peace Task Force that formed in 1992 in response to an incident in which a woman was shot and killed outside of Albertsons by her husband. The organization then moved, and hired 10 paid staff members, including case managers who speak Spanish. The 15-bedroom shelter protects victims and gives them the resources to become independent, with an emphasis on education. Patton says the organization also reaches out to high schools for prevention of child abuse, how to be safe in relationships and dating and how to deal with bullies, based on a curriculum approved and sanctioned by Utah’s Board of Education. A new program will use $5,000 from this month’s Park City Board of Realtors donation for scholarships for college and high school, Patton said. In addition to Holiday Helpers, the Peace House is currently looking to collect warm coats and hats for the colder months ahead. The holidays are a particularly busy time for the organization, and every donation time or money counts, Patton says. "The other day, a woman gave us $2, and said, ‘I don’t have a lot, but I give what I can,’" she explained. "I am so touched by that. It’s really about getting the awareness out there letting people know we’re here. We’ll never know how many people’s lives are saved just by getting in touch with Peace House."
To contact the Peace House or to join this year’s Holiday Helpers program, call 647-9161. Peace House also has a website at http://www.peacehouseinc.org
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The large fireworks shows scheduled for July 3 and July 4 at Park City Mountain Resort have been canceled because of worries about fire risk and drought conditions.