From its start in 1979, Penelope House has aimed to “provide safety, protection and support to the victims of domestic violence and their children through the provision of shelter, advocacy and individual and community education.” Penelope House keeps its doors open for individuals and their children who have been affected by domestic violence with an intimate partner and have nowhere else to go in order to feel safe.
In Penelope House’s 2018 annual report, Executive Director Tonie Ann Torrans explained the organization’s persistence has been the ultimate factor in its success, comparing its journey to the famous Benjamin Franklin quote: “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Through its board of directors, donors, staff and volunteers, the organization is motivated to keep working toward fulfilling its mission.
Penelope House recently celebrated its 40th anniversary during its annual meeting, which included Sheriff Sam Cochran, Dr. Kathryn Coumanis ( first president of the board of directors), and Karen and Cecil Pettiford and Cecil Pettiford. They also recognized those who have had a substantial impact on the organization and those who are joining the team to combat domestic violence.
Cochran described his experience of being a young patrol officer before Penelope House was formed, when he often felt hopeless in aiding female victims of domestic violence. With the establishment of Penelope House, he said, those women were given hope.
“The best help is that we’re sitting here today celebrating the 40th anniversary, and that’s the way to go,” Cochran said. “They’ve been a lifesaver for many people and continue to bring insight to the treatment and help to people.”
Afterward, Cecil and Karen Pettiford spoke about a play the two worked together to produce, “Unscathed.” Written by Karen Pettiford, the play features a young woman who faces the tough decision to leave her husband after experiencing both mental and physical abuse at his hands.
“Being a victim of Domestic Violence for over 10 years, just made me want to help them,” said Pettiford, expressing her motivation for writing this play.
During the meeting the lead actors performed a snippet of the play featuring a song written by Cecil Pettiford. The powerful scene showed the unfortunate reality of domestic violence and how one can escape the situation in order to find refuge in a safe space.
Penelope House has set a $40,000 fundraising goal this year in recognition of its 40 years of service. Toward this goal, Penelope House will host its 11th annual Mobile Chocolate Festival this Saturday, March 30, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Grounds, 1035 Cody Road N. in Mobile. Admission is free for children 13 and younger; general admission is $3 in advance, with tickets available at Penelope’s Closet, Flour Girls, Bloomin’ Lollipops and Three Georges. Tickets cost $5 the day of the event. Parking is free.
All proceeds from the event benefit Penelope House. For more information, visit penelopehouse.org.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence, the emergency crisis line is 251-342-8994.
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