Family Crisis Services, which assists victims of domestic violence and works to prevent a culture of violence, hosted its third annual fundraising gala, raising more than $23,000.

“As a nonprofit, we’re always battling budget cuts, so something like this helps us survive,” said planning committee member Stephanie Eklund.

The women’s shelter isn’t in the news much, partly because the location is, for obvious reasons, private. But getting the word out about the people served – and what they need – is crucial to any fundraising effort.

“It’s really important, because there are so many women, men and children affected by domestic abuse,” said Sheena Stanhope, a domestic violence survivor. “Family Crisis Services helped me in the past, and it’s not something you can put a price on. They helped me with anything I asked for.”

Sheltering one woman costs about $3,000 a month – which includes not only physical shelter but also case management, legal advocacy and safety training.

“Most people come into shelter with nothing, maybe one or two bags of clothes,” said Jenny Stasio, director of operations for FCS.

In 2015, FCS provided shelter to 99 women and 33 children. FCS assists victims of dating abuse, elder abuse, stalking and human trafficking.

“If you teach and you know your students, you know they face domestic violence,” said Margaret Hoyt of Scarborough. “By volunteering, I can understand domestic violence better and relate to my students who experience it at home.”

Kara Tierney-Trevor told gala attendees about FCS collaborations with South Portland High School, where she has been a social worker for 13 years. “Young people, survivors of abuse… need support in walking through the fiery process of change, healing and advocacy,” Tierney-Trevor said. “They need knowledge about equity in relationships, healthy communication and personal integrity. And this is where the bridge to FCS lies.”

The other guest speaker at the gala was one of Tierney-Trevor’s former students, Lauren Faulkner, who confided in her years ago about abuse at home.

Faulkner described her 17 years of abuse – from childhood sexual abuse to domestic violence as a young mother – with a single word: “hopeless.”

“If FCS wasn’t in existence, I don’t think I would have left the cycle of abuse,” said Faulkner, who is a mother, a graduate of the University of Southern Maine, and a graduate of FCS’s 12-week training program for volunteers.

“Even until a year ago, there were things I didn’t see as domestic violence though it was,” Faulkner said. “I’m now in a place where I’m ready to pay it forward. … Thank you for letting me tell my story. I want to say that the services that are out there have saved one survivor’s life.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

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