‘Overwhelmed, heartwarmed and on an absolute high’

Tara Bradbury
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Victims of domestic violence buoyed by community support

A week ago, one local woman was lying on her couch at home as she had done for months, wondering, she said, how she would ever be able to escape the abuse she suffered at the hands of her partner for years.

A new resident of Iris Kirby House, on Friday afternoon she said she was feeling “overwhelmed, heartwarmed and on an absolute high.”

The staff at the house, a St. John’s shelter for women and their children leaving abusive relationships, held a reception Friday to recognize The Telegram’s Warm Hearts campaign and in celebration of February being Violence Prevention Month in Newfoundland and Labrador. Residents, former residents and their children were treated to lunch and a visit by Warm Hearts patron Lynda Boyd of “Republic of Doyle.”

The women and kids were also provided with pyjamas and other items of winter clothing, generously donated over the past week by Telegram readers. Their appreciation was overwhelming.

“It’s been a wonderful, fantastic day. A beautiful day. The best day I’ve had in years,” one resident said.

Now in its second year, Warm Hearts aims to raise awareness and funds for Iris Kirby House, as well as provide items of winter clothing for its residents, and the residents of its sister shelter, O’Shaughnessy House in Carbonear.

Since the project began last month, it has already had an effect, said Iris Kirby House executive director Gail Tobin.

“Since the launch of the campaign, more women have been reaching out to us. There have been more calls to our distress line and more admissions,” she said. “Women are realizing they have a safe place to go.”

Iris Kirby House offers 22 rooms where women leaving violent home lives can stay until they get back on their feet, as well as counselling, empowerment group sessions, second-stage housing, referrals and a support network to help them transition into a better place in life.

“I am so glad I get to be a part of these women’s transformational journeys,” said Boyd after her visit. “I feel grateful to have met the residents at Iris Kirby House today, this being the first day of Violence Prevention Month. These are women of great courage.”

Warm Hearts will continue until the end of February, and anyone wishing to participate can drop off pyjamas, blankets, housecoats, socks, slippers, underwear, hats, scarves and mittens for women and children (new items only, please) as well as personal hygiene items to The Telegram office in the Village Mall. Donations of pennies — which will no longer be in circulation after Monday — are also being accepted.

Boyd will be appearing at Sobeys on Merrymeeting Road from 1-4 p.m. today to sign autographs and accept donations for Warm Hearts.

The campaign will culminate in the Stars for Warm Hearts concert at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Feb. 23, featuring Shanneyganock, Repartee, comedian John Sheehan, Chris Kirby and the Marquee, Mary Barry, Jerry Stamp, Ian Foster, Evry7th, the Neighbourhood Strays and Atlantic Union. Tickets are $30 (tax and surcharge included) and are available online at www.artandculturecentre.com.



Twitter: @tara_bradbury



Organizations: Iris Kirby House, O’Shaughnessy House, The Telegram Sobeys Neighbourhood Strays and Atlantic Union

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Doyle, Merrymeeting Road

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Recent comments

  • Ginger
    February 06, 2013 - 05:17

    Thanks for the clarification Tara! This makes much more sense..so, basically its a “special” donation time for this well deserved home....very nice idea indeed!!

  • used clothing accepted....
    February 06, 2013 - 05:11

    FYI.....try reading the above story and the request for NEW clothing only before you you state your facts!!!!!

  • max brown
    February 05, 2013 - 22:06

    While I am glad that there is a shelter in our city that assists women fleeing abusive relationships, I have to admit I am puzzled as to why Kirby House would permit a picture of a resident to be used in this article. Everyone is aware that women are actually in more danger immediately after they leave an abusive partner..why then was a resident put in possible danger by the very place that acknowledges this fact? I realize that the shelter is a safe haven for many women and they must feel so grateful to be there. Surely their confidentiality should be protected even when they offer to "go public" , after all they do not have to show how grateful they are , it is their right and society's responsibility to provide that safety. . I think poor judgement was used here. I hope the woman remains safe in spite of it all.

  • used clothing accepted
    February 05, 2013 - 18:43

    FYI, Iris kirby house do accept used clothing and household items, I have dropped it of many times, just call ahead and let the house know that you are coming. they are very grateful for all donations.

  • yeah right
    February 05, 2013 - 14:44

    .. though i have empathy for women in truly abusive situations , it concerns me greatly that many of these shelters provide advice to women on how to use the "system" in their efforts to exclude men from the lives of their kids , it's far too easy to make false allegations ...

  • Ginger
    February 05, 2013 - 14:08

    Why can't the clothing donations be gently used?...I find it hard to believe that such an organization would ask for NEW clothing only!...I guess I will have to find another accepting organization to donate my 4 bags of “used” clothing to, which by the way is in immaculate condition! Sorry Iris Kirby!

    • Tara Bradbury, Telegram reporter
      February 05, 2013 - 15:05

      Hi Ginger, It's not actually Iris Kirby House that's specifying the items should be new only — when we started the Warm Hearts campaign, we thought (because most of the donations the shelter gets are typically second-hand) that a nice, new, never-worn pair of pyjamas might be something small and extra special that could provide the women and children with some comfort and love during a scary time. The shelter does have a donation box outside where it graciously accepts donations of gently used clothing, and I know these donations are much appreciated, also.

    February 05, 2013 - 13:32

    Fully support Iris Kirby House. However, why is there not a safe house for abused men. They are out there, but I guess just too proud to admit that a woman is violent towards them. I think it's because they believe they should be the protectors and because of being abused by a women, it shows they are weak and unworthy. Works both ways folks.

  • Joe it All
    February 05, 2013 - 13:17

    If the abusive men were in jail where they belong the woman and children could stay in the house. At the very least the abuser should have to leave the family home.