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Caring people make a difference

Last September Therese Park wrote a column in the KC Star describing what she learned in the summer of 1950 as 9-year-old in Pusan, Korea, during the start of the Korean War. Due to the war, the government ordered all private home owners to open their homes to refugees. All of a sudden, Ms. Park’s home housed additional families. Ms. Park’s mother decided to start a “sewing circle,” in order to give the additional women a pleasant, constructive activity. Her mother allowed her to sit on these lessons as well. Often times, conversation included comments about husbands, children’s behaviors, challenges with money, how to extend the food rations, etc. Everything discussed during the sewing circle stayed amongst the women ... no one passed judgment on any one or any comment.

Almost buried in the article’s paragraphs she wrote about a woman staying in their home whose husband beat her regularly. He chose to do this when they were alone, and he never hit her where bruises showed. The sewing circle ladies wanted her to leave him, even helped her devise a plan, but the woman replied, “He always finds me.” Just one day later the couple left, and Ms. Park’s mother never heard from the woman again. She always regretted she didn’t do more to protect her and possibly save a life; she feared the worst scenario.

Therese Park’s article wasn’t about domestic abuse, but rather what she learned sitting at the feet of adults, and the sacredness of female time together. Yet it was that one paragraph that resonated with me, due to my work at SAFEHOME, Johnson County’s only domestic violence shelter. How many of us hear comments we don’t quite understand, maybe said lightly, maybe in jest, possibly as an afterthought? Then we wonder, what does that mean? Is it someone reaching out? Is it someone wanting us to ask “Are you okay? Are you safe?” Then, later, we regret taking no action.

Therefore, in 2014, I encourage you to take action and live without regrets. If you think someone needs help, especially with matters relating to abuse, call SAFEHOME’s hotline, 913-262-2868. Finding help and ensuring safety represent acts of Kiddush Ha-Shem, sanctification of God’s name. If you are more comfortable asking me questions or want information concerning resources, call me at 913-378-1518. Let this new year help each of us to evolve into careful listeners, concerned human beings, and pro-active friends.

Before I close, I want to thank Ray Davidson and B’not Lev BBG for the wonderful outreach they did on behalf of SAFEHOME at the Jewish Arts Festival in October. Ray generously donated proceeds from Frieda’s Challah sales, and B’not Lev members distributed purple ribbons and information about SAFEHOME. Caring people make such a difference!


Susan Lebovitz is SAFEHOME’s Volunteer Manager along with being the Jewish Community Outreach Coordinator on Domestic Violence, funded by the Flo Harris Foundation.