With a moment of silence along with universal prayer for strength and assistance, the Pomona community gathered to reflect and support the families affected by domestic violence during a candlelight vigil hosted by the Pomona Police Department and the House of Ruth held Oct. 17.
Supporters of the available programs in Pomona, members of the police department and victims of domestic violence gathered in the lawn of the Pomona Outreach Center to light a candle and acknowledge the efforts being taken by the city to cap domestic violence in the community.
“Pomona has a true sense of family,” Rufino Bautista, a representative for State Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod said. “A lot of it has to do with the work you do at the House of Ruth.”
Throughout the night, different community members were recognized for their contributions to helping victims of domestic violence. Among the honored that night were Pomona Police Chief Joe Romero, several staff members from the House of Ruth, donors of the House of Ruth, medical personnel and legal aides.
Sue Aebischer, executive director of the House of Ruth in Claremont, categorized the many volunteers needed to make a domestic violence prevention and assistance program work by using quilt metaphor. Each type of person involved was represented by a specific color or shape that complimented his or her contributions. For example, the clergy are purple for giving the healing spirit to victims while volunteers are white for the love and altruism they share.
“We wanted to thank the people we work with everyday,” Aebischer said. “People who don’t get recognized very much.”
In between recognitions Aebischer pointed out a quilt that is being made by one of the volunteers at the House of Ruth. The colorful quilt will eventually contain reassuring messages to the victims of domestic violence. Participants were asked to offer suggestions for the messages while viewing the quilt that will be auctioned off at the House of Ruth’s 30th anniversary gala in May.
Two survivors of domestic violence were asked to speak about their experience and how they got through it.
One 33 year-old woman and mother of three was in an abusive relationship for 10 years and was able to break the habit of leaving and coming back to the relationship with the help of the House of Ruth. She noted that after counseling and a little help from caring people, she feels more confident now.
Lupe Marquez, a 42 year-old Corona resident, also decided to tell her story of survival at the vigil.
“I want women to know that it’s not easy, but there are people here,” Marquez said. “We just got to reach out. It took me a long time to do that.”
Marquez who suffered through 10 years of abuse is now married and hopes to help other women who were in her situation.
“God has given me a second chance,” Marquez said. “My goal is always helping people. Hopefully I can open a transitional home.”
During the moments of silence soft music provided by the eclectic folk music group Sugar Mountain Mama Serenade played in the background.
“It’s an amazing foundation,” Joy McAllister, Sugar Mountain band member said. “What they do is incredible. It was emotional, a great event. (We were) proud to do it.”
Andres Rivera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.