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Legislators Honor Agencies That Help Westchester Domestic Violence Victims

Service agency directors mingle with county legislators before Tuesday's domestic violence forum.
Service agency directors mingle with county legislators before Tuesday's domestic violence forum. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Leaders of five county service organizations display proclamations made by legislators Tuesday.
Leaders of five county service organizations display proclamations made by legislators Tuesday. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
Service organization leaders with county legislators after the proclamations were read.
Service organization leaders with county legislators after the proclamations were read. Photo Credit: Contributed/Matthew Richter

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County legislators sponsored a forum Tuesday recognizing community service agencies that for decades have assisted victims of domestic violence.

Their work often goes on behind-the-scenes, legislators said, because victims of abuse often need to remain anonymous for their personal safety (and their children's) while trying to start anew in careers or healthy relationships.

One victim who shared her story with legislators identified herself only as Susie. She recalled meeting her future husband at a party during the holidays. "He was extremely generous. He swept me off my feet. ... But by Valentine's Day, he had no gifts and he was slapping me around. We lived in a nice house. We went on vacations. I thought it was going to get better, but it never did. Fifteen years later, here I am."

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. So the Board of Legislators' Community Services Committee recognized five service organizations that help domestic violence victims:

Legislator Alfreda Williams, D-Greenburgh, as committee chairwoman, presented the first proclamation to Karen Cheeks-Lomax, chief executive officer of My Sister's Place, which has been operating 38 years.

Majority Leader Catherine Borgia, D-Ossining, presented a proclamation to CarlLa Horton, executive director of Hope's Door, which has provided shelter, safety and support for more than 30 years.

Parker also introduced Vivian Onano, who wrote this column in the Huffington Post on Monday.

Legislator Mary Jane Shimsky, D-Hastings, presented a proclamation to Cindy Kanusher, deputy director of the Pace Women's Justice Center, founded in 1991.

Legislator Catherine Parker, D-Rye, presented a proclamation to Joanne Sirotkin, manager of Legal Services of the Hudson Valley, started in 1967. "We want to thank you for your ongoing support,'' Sirotkin told the legislators.

County Board Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, presented a proclamation to May Krukiel, director of Victim's Assistance Services.

"That was fantastic,'' Kaplowitz told Susie. "On the eighth floor (of the county office building) we get a little detached from the world at large."

Legislator Benjamin Boykin, D-White Plains, said, "The work you provide is really so important. . . People don't seek the help they need."

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