First annual banquet for Women’s Shelter is a success

Published 2:05 am Wednesday, September 20, 2006

“Every 15 seconds, a woman is beaten in this country. For as many as four million women, this battering is so severe, they require medical or police attention. But for nearly 4,000 women each year, the abuse ends. They die,” read a section of the brochure given to each guest that attended the first annual Women’s Shelter Banquet on Sept. 16 at the Resurrection Life Worship Center.

The banquet was designed to be a fund raiser to aid the Inez T. Herring Women’s Center for Victims of Domestic Violence, which is the only domestic violence shelter in Pearl River County, in cooperation with Day Star Women’s Ministries, Inc.

Day Star is a nonprofit organization that provides residential care for troubled or pregnant teen-aged girls between the ages of 13 and 16 years of age.

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Day Star recently built a Women’s Counseling Center and the 24 bed shelter for victims of family violence to service the Pearl River County and Mississippi area.

Day Star is a nondenominational Christian organization that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by Home Missionaries whose goal is to help the women who stay in their shelters make progress in building new lives and better futures for themselves and their children. It is not owned by or solely supported by any one church or denomination, but by private individuals and businesses that support its mission of providing safe haven for women and children.

The banquet began with opening remarks from Elizabeth “Libby” Garcia, Founder and Director of Day Star Women’s Ministries, Inc., Day Star Women’s Counseling Center and Day Star Home for Girls and Co-Founder and Director of the Inez T. Herring Women’s Center for Victims of Domestic Violence.

“Day Star is not just a business, it’s a community. These women come to us and begin to have friendships and relationships and some of those things these women have not had the freedom to enjoy in a very long time,” Garcia said.

While eating a prime rib dinner, guests were entertained by vocal performers “Skip” Rigney and Edie Flores and also enjoyed acoustic violin music.

Afterwards, women who have been helped by the shelter gave their testimonials.

“When my daughter I came to the shelter, we had to depend on them for absolutely everything: food, water, going places, you name it. But now, thanks to their help, love and support, I’m going to college and my daughter is doing really well in school. This community needs for this center to stay open,” said Susan.

When Karen took the microphone, she recounted how at one time, she was living on the streets.

“Since coming to the clinic, I’ve been able to sleep. I’ve had a peace that I never had in my previous lifestyle when I lived in a car. I’ve learned that you have to trust God for everthing you need,” Karen said.

Reynada, a fair complected, willowy young woman, then took the microphone and before she could even speak, tears began to roll down her face. She was in an abusive relationship for four years.

“You just don’t know what it’s like to finally find this clinic and to finally know that you can go to sleep and wake up that next morning and be alive and know that you’re kids will be alive when you wake up,” she said.

“I don’t think I’d be here today without this place. It is so vital to our community because I know that I won’t be the last person to every walk through those doors needing help,” Reynada said.

Dub Herring then took the stage with tears in his eyes.

“These girls almost made me cry. I think I’m gonna have to tell a joke now,” Herring said.

After telling a few jokes that made the audience chuckle with laughter, Herring told how his father was a “mean drunk” and physically abused he and his five other siblings and their mother, Inez T. Herring.

“I knew that we needed this place. And I knew that I would be good at starting it, but that I didn’t have the right things to be able to run it. And that’s where Libby came in,” Herring said.

“Helping save lives is what we’re all about,” Garcia said.

The evening ended with an offering and an auction where guests could outbid eachother to purchase quilts made by women at Resurrection Life Church and the Women’s Shelter, with some quilts selling for over $600.

“When we moved to South Mississippi in 1994, we had no idea that the area was in such need of a facility. We discovered that these families were being sent to the Gulf Coast to shelters and often were not accepted at all due to lack of space. But then we built this independent living facility that is now providing a safe haven for the women and children in our area that are victims of domestic violence. In conjunction with area agencies, these women are aided with GED classes, life skills training, college tutoring, computer literacy and personal counseling. Our goal is to assist them in acquiring a brighter future for themselves and their children,” said Garcia.

For Day Star Girls Home Offices, please call 601-795-0083. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call the Domestic Violence Hot Line at 866-231-4568.