We Want to Welcome Susie Trotochaud into the Legacy Society!

Susie

Susie Trotochaud, our next PADV Legacy Society inductee, has been involved with PADV for 16 years serving in various roles for the organization.

“My husband and I were looking for a volunteer organization for employees of his company to support, and we found PADV. I had heard of the organization before, known as The Council on Battered Women, and knew they did good work. The employees created a cookbook of recipes, titled “Humble Pie,” that raised $10,000 for the Gwinnett PADV Shelter.”

After that experience and learning more about PADV Trotochaud and her husband, Scott, became more involved.

“I am amazed by how many people are affected by violence in the home – it doesn’t matter your income, age or education. People often see a “face” of abuse, but there is no single face; it can and does happen everywhere. People should get involved because more people need help than you would ever believe. You can be in a room with 50 people and be amazed how many have been affected by violence.”

Hearing from the survivors along with her many years of work with PADV Trotochaud discovered what type of strength people have to come to PADV.

“I feel I am a pretty strong person. I am one of those people who always says this would never happen to me, but I’ve have met some pretty strong women with PADV. The strength it takes to actually get away and change your life. That is strength I don’t think I have ever had to find in myself. It is inspiring.”

Trotochaud was awakened to the kinds of people it takes to run an organization like PADV. It requires people who have either experienced the violence themselves or are willing to open their minds and their eyes to the realities of abuse.

“Hearing the stories of people who lived in the situations, survived it and were helped by the partnership, along with knowing what we have been able to contribute has made a difference for people. Those are my fondest memories.  We are happy to continue to do whatever we can to help PADV. We still know that any support we give the organization will make a difference and that is what we want to continue to do.”

Legacy Society Honors Scott Dorfman

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Our next inductee, Innotrac President, CEO and Chairman Scott Dorfman. Dorfman has served as a PADV benefactor for more than 16 years.

Dorfman and his wife, Susie Trotochaud, initiated their involvement after searching for an organization that improved the lives of children and families. Dorfman and Trotochaud describe the moment they came across PADV as a “love at first sight” situation.

“We were looking for an organization that we felt strongly about. We wanted to find people who needed protection or families that needed help. When Susie found the Partnership (PADV) we knew right away that this was the one.”

Throughout Dorfman’s 16 involvement with PADV, he has seen the organization’s transformation. One of his fondest memories centers on a cookbook that he and his wife compiled to benefit PADV.

“It was back in the days when the organization had very few donations being given. Susie and I called on our Atlanta employees to submit their favorite recipes, and we took that and turned it into a cookbook, “Humble Pie.”  With 100 percent of the proceeds going directly to PADV, $10,000 was raised.”

Through his initial work with PADV, Dorfman realized that the impact of the book showed what PADV could offer to those who needed help.

“Susie and I were amazed by the number of employees requesting more information about PADV for victims of abuse… someone they knew or themselves. I thought, wow, this is really crazy. We were just doing this because we believed in the cause – but here’s a group of 200 people who not only came to buy a book, but also came to get help.”

Dorfman was inspired during his time as a Hearts with Hope co-chairman where he met a survivor who told her story.

“I volunteered my home as a location for filming with a survivor. She was a woman from India and had been brought over on false pretenses. She had no rights here, and she had no rights in India. I thought she really didn’t have a choice. She was kept in the home and abused. She had no idea that she really could get free. The Partnership opened her eyes. She soon realized, I don’t have to do this.”

PADV’s mission and personal stories impacted Dorfman, who feels that domestic violence safe havens are vitally important to society.

“Those who are abused – children and adults need somebody out there as an advocate; somewhere for them to go. For every woman or child being abused, there are 20 more whom no one hears about. Someone must hear their stories and help them heal.”

Welcoming Julie C. Smith to PADV’s Legacy Society

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I am honored to have been invited to join the Legacy Society. Over the past seven years I have had the great pleasure of being involved with PADV and becoming more aware of the issues that so many women and men face each day.

My involvement with PADV stemmed from Verizon’s long-time dedication to community service. As the manager of Verizon’s external affairs and philanthropic giving for the southern region, I saw the urgent need to raise awareness of and build conversation about domestic violence issues. When I learned that one in every four women and one in every seven men are reported to be victims of domestic violence, I knew I had to do more.

I began volunteering with PADV and their “Domestic Violence in the Workplace” initiative, helping companies learn to identify signals of domestic violence. This is an important and potentially life-saving component of the work we do. When you think about how much time we spend in the workplace together with co-workers, you realize the vital importance of establishing a safe and trusting environment. You want people to feel comfortable to ask for help when they need it – sometimes desperately.

Some companies are doing a great job of this, such as Sykes Enterprises in Tampa. The senior leadership there has been proactively learning about the issues and signs of domestic violence, and have increased awareness within their employee ranks.

Unfortunately however, domestic violence often has the stigma of a topic not to be discussed. The stigma dissipates as more companies have the conversation, and experts like PADV are helping start that conversation.

Raising awareness about domestic violence has become my passion. The people we help are neighbors, co-workers, friends and loved ones.  As a result of my involvement some victims have felt comfortable sharing their stories with me, and it is a source of great fulfillment to respond and provide encouragement in their time of need. I cherish helping them, and am fortunate and grateful for the opportunity to do so.

To that end, both Verizon and PADV have encouraged me to stay involved and work toward the goal of changing the culture surrounding domestic violence. That is a critical step toward the ultimate goal of no domestic violence and no need for shelters. Because of employers like mine and wonderful charities like this one, I am confident that I will have the support to see this goal come to fruition.

Sincerely,

Julie

Julie C. Smith is the vice president of state government affairs and external affairs for Verizon’s southeast region. She serves on the corporate leadership council at the Fernbank Museum and is a volunteer member at Buckhead Church.

Legacy Society’s Own Cathy Adams

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As we look forward to bringing in another list of remarkable Legacy Society inductees, we’re proud to introduce an inductee from the inaugural list – Cathy Adams, executive vice president and chief operations officer at Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLBank of Atlanta). Cathy has given her time and energy to the Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV) for more than 15 years, serving in a number of leadership roles. We are honored to have her join the Legacy Society. We spoke with Cathy about her work with PADV, including the ongoing relationship that FHLBank of Atlanta has with PADV. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you come to be involved with PADV?

I became involved with PADV about 15 years ago through Charlotte McRanie, who was the chairman of the PADV board and a close colleague of mine at FHLBank of Atlanta. The Bank has always been devoted to the PADV. A lot of people don’t know this, but PADV’s main office space used to be at FHLBank of Atlanta, which is indicative of our commitment to the organization. At the time, I was the human resources director at the Bank, and Charlotte would talk to me a great deal about hiring decisions for PADV.

In addition to business matters, Charlotte would often talk to me about the spirit of PADV. I learned about the challenges and what the organization was accomplishing. Domestic violence is a crime, and I didn’t fully believe or comprehend that at first. I thought we would help women find courage, and that’s part of it, but it’s also about the sacredness of home. Home should be a safe place. When you don’t have that, it comes before everything else.

Initially, I got involved with PADV because my corporation was involved. It was only after I got involved that I had a pretty significant transformation. In 2000, Charlotte McRanie transitioned off of PADV’s board and asked me to trade positions with her as a member.

Why did the issues become important to you?

I was very inexperienced being on the board of a nonprofit organization, so I went to every fundraising event and gathering PADV offered. I also visited the two shelters. I’ve heard many people mention that they cried when seeing the new Gwinnett Shelter because they were in awe of its beauty. I remember pulling into the driveway of the old Gwinnett Shelter and crying because it was so pitifully sad.

That was my moment of clarity, and I thought to myself, “We can do better than this.” I desperately wanted to create a safe alternative for these women and children. In that moment, something switched in my head and in my heart, and I realized the seriousness of this issue and the importance of the work.

There’s such a huge legacy for how the new Gwinnett Shelter came to life. It took years and years, and I’m proud to have been a part of the early work to transform that sad shelter into something magnificent.

Were there any major movements that happened during your time as PADV board chair?

During my time on the board, we were in the middle of the worst recession that many of us have ever known. At PADV, the demand for our services was going up and our ability to supply those services consistently was extremely challenging. When families are depressed and unemployment is high, the pressure exacerbates a lot of the factors that contribute to violence.

Part of our challenge as a board was that we had grown rapidly, and we were doing very programmatic things which were helpful, but we didn’t have as much experiential knowledge. As board chair, I established a governance board committee to help us do our jobs in the most efficient way. This reconnected the board to the people we were serving. I also added “a mission moment” to start board meetings with someone’s story, a picture or something to reconnect our meeting to the mission and remind us of the real reasons we were there.

Another important thing that happened during my time as board chair was that we changed PADV’s mission statement. Instead of saying domestic violence, we changed the words to intimate partner violence – because this happens in all communities at all levels. We also changed the statement to emphasize that domestic violence is criminal act. Previously, we had not come out using that kind of strong language. Our revised mission statement is something I’m proud of.

Current Mission Statement: PADV works to end the crime of intimate partner violence and empower its survivors.

How are you involved in the organization today?

What I do today is focused on making sure FHLBank of Atlanta continues to support PADV in every way. The Bank often provides space for committee meetings and night and weekend volunteer trainings. It’s a big deal to us, and it’s a contribution on behalf of the Bank. We also do an enormous amount of print work for the organization in terms of advertising, newsletters, event invitations, brochures, etc. And now, we have Sharon Cook on the board of PADV, and she has the full support of FHLBank Atlanta. Anything that the Bank can do to help her, we will.

People who have worked closely with PADV say that their experiences with the organization resonate with them in other areas of life. Has your work with PADV impacted aspects of your everyday life and/or work environment?

There used to be a time where if people didn’t come to work, they got fired. After working closely with PADV, I asked that we add a domestic violence policy to our employee handbook to provide a level of services and understanding, because we don’t want to penalize someone who’s a victim. The employer has a responsibility to become a part of the solution, not add to the problem.

My work with PADV has helped me be very careful to not form conclusions based on superficial indicators. There’s almost always an important story, and we have to take time to listen and be open. My experience at PADV has helped me to live up to my aspiration of always being patient and willing to lend an ear. If there’s a kinder, gentler, more patient Cathy, that’s who I want to be, and PADV has helped me get there.

What are some things you feel are important to growing and maintaining the legacy of PADV?

There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t hear a news story about domestic violence. I believe PADV has to maintain a strong presence and get the word out to our community. People have to connect the dots. Domestic violence is a pervasive mix of psychological and physical abuse, and we have to pay attention.

During the month of October, Partnership Against Domestic Violence (PADV) will join together with organizations, survivors and advocates across the country in observing Domestic Violence AwFull_Shot_of_Judge_Daphne_M _Walker (2)areness Month. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, every nine seconds a woman is physically assaulted in the United States. Each day, more than three women are tragically murdered by a boyfriend or husband.  Domestic violence/intimate partner violence (DV/IPV) is a real issue affecting the lives of millions of women and their children.

Throughout my life, I have always been dedicated to women’s issues. After serving as a Girl Scout for 12 years, attending SpelmanCollege, a women’s college, and working in the Crimes Against Women and Children’s Unit as a prosecutor, my passion flourished. During my years as a prosecutor, I consistently heard stories of coworkers who noticed a behavior change in a fellow colleague. Once aware of the violence, he/she often felt responsible realizing the magnitude of the life-threatening situation.  All the signs were there: a black eye, tardiness to work, a change in mood, but the coworker did not want to get involved until it was too late.

PADV will continue to do our part in spreading DV/IPV awareness through education. On October 3, 2013, we will host our fourth annual Domestic Violence in the Workplace (DVIW) conference at The Home Depot headquarters. We look forward to an exchange between HR professionals and employees on this devastating issue. Most believe DV/IPV is a private matter disregarding the impact on not only children and family members, but, also the victim’s work environment. As we look at the residual effects of DV/IPV and the many instances occurring each year, the issue can no longer be private. It is time for all to take a stand in ending the violence. DVIW is a unique opportunity for PADV to equip all working professionals with the necessary tools. We want to ensure when issues arise, every company, big or small, has a plan of action. The right response could save a life.

In future years, PADV aims to move closer to our goal of eradicating DV/IPV. We will continue to educate the public on why DV/IPV is happening in our communities. We will bring the issue to the forefront and truly spark dialogue. We will position ourselves as a thought leader on DV/IPV and influence public policy.  Programs, like DVIW, are the first step to spreading awareness and educating the public. Please join us this Thursday, October 3, for a powerful dialogue on Domestic Violence in the Workplace.

Sincerely,

Daphne Walker

President & Chief Executive Officer

Partnership Against Domestic Violence

Julie C. Smith

For the past seven years, Verizon has been a supporter of the Domestic Violence in the Workplace Conference (DVIW). Julie C. Smith, vice president of state government affairs and external affairs, believes PADV and Verizon share a valuable relationship as both entities have similar goals.

“As a company, Verizon has a long history of supporting domestic violence awareness and prevention,” Smith said. “It was extremely logical to partner with such a respected organization. PADV does so much to help raise awareness in the community and gain support for those impacted by domestic violence.”

Since 2000, Verizon and the Verizon Foundation has provided more than $65 million in grants to domestic violence prevention organizations, women’s shelters, healthcare professionals, law enforcement officials and various male mentoring initiatives. Prior to joining Verizon, Smith had little knowledge about domestic violence/intimate partner violence’s (DV/IPV) impact on the business world. She currently serves as this year’s DVIW program chair.

“No matter how many times I talk to a domestic violence advocate or participate in a conference, I leave with more knowledge and passion for helping solve this issue,” Smith explained.

As a business woman, Smith knows the importance of executives learning from their peers. She believes testimonials from various sized companies and their leaders will drive the message home to DVIW’s professional audience.

“What makes this conference unique is how we are really focused on this from a business perspective,” Smith said. “I’m excited about our expert panelists who will be able to really engage in dialogue. Our tag for this year is ‘Domestic violence IS your business’. Statistically, one out of every four women is subjected to domestic violence, in reported cases. Therefore, every workplace has the potential to be effected by this. The way domestic violence can affect costs, productivity and morale makes it very important for businesses to care. It should be part of who you are as an employer. We hope every organization leaves this conference with a plan if one has yet to be established.”

According to Smith, implementation of company-wide programs, like Verizon’s, should not be seen as a difficult task.

“Continue to educate,” Smith advised. “Come up with a plan and follow through. The DVIW conference will give attendees the tools to get started. Most importantly, you must be persistent. Simply mentioning it once is not enough.  Start the conversation with employees and keep it going.”

To find out more information or to register for the 2013 Domestic Violence in the Workplace conference, please visit http://padv.org/events/domestic-violence-in-the-workplace/.

Irv Kooris

Irv Kooris

Irv Kooris

Irv Kooris, Director of Associate Services at The Home Depot, serves as the 2013 Event Chairman for Domestic Violence in the Workplace (DVIW) conference. Kooris first began his experience with PADV five years ago as a conference participant. He was extremely impressed with the organization’s mission.

Kooris believes the second annual DVIW conference is a crucial investment amongst business leaders to educate employees and create a safe work environment. Oftentimes, employees are a company’s most valuable resource as their performance can determine profitability.

“Businesses cannot claim domestic violence as a private issue,” Kooris explained. “Employees are the basis of every business, making it the company’s responsibility to take action. The workplace brings everyone together everyday making it a great place to educate employees. The cost of not being prepared to take action is far more expensive than the cost of bringing awareness to employees.”

Domestic violence and intimate partner violence (DV/IPV) has been estimated to cost American employers up to $13 billion, each year. Survivors lose approximately eight million days of paid work, annually. After revealing the multiple ways DV/IPV can affect a business, Kooris believes it will ignite executives to face the issue.

“The challenge isn’t knowing domestic violence is important, but it’s having people understand its importance from a human stand point, risk management stand point and a business stand point,” Kooris said.

The Home Depot, host site of this year’s DVIW conference, is setting an example for businesses of all sizes by establishing company wide DV/IPV awareness and resources.

“Our human resource department and their partners are consistently strengthening resources as they begin to understand the policies and utilize communication vehicles.”

After the DVIW conference, The Home Depot will continue to proactively educate employees, maintain a good relationship with the human resources department and customize a domestic violence policy specific to handling victims within their company.

“I believe it is important to have the right players at the table so when these situations arrive, we aren’t scratching our heads,” Kooris explained. “We will instantly know what to do internally.”

To find out more information or to register for the 2013 Domestic Violence in the Workplace conference, please visit http://padv.org/events/domestic-violence-in-the-workplace/.

Shining a light on PADV

“You are now entering the mission field.” Sandra Strickland sees this sign before exiting her church building each week. And every time she stops to think about what it means.

Sandra and daughter Theresa Bullock are two extraordinary women who entered the mission field to help the numerous women and children in Gwinnett County who are affected by domestic violence.

Theresa’s daughter was in an abusive relationship in her teenage years. After she received the assistance she needed, Theresa and her husband started looking for a place they could support that helped others like their daughter.

What they found was PADV. Sandra and Theresa were asked to co-chair PADV’s Gwinnett County Safe House Capital Campaign to raise more than $4.4M for a new shelter for abused women. After consulting with their husbands and joining in steadfast prayer, both women agreed to the challenge because they felt that was where God wanted them to be.

Their family gave the lead gift of $500,000 to ensure the new facility is up and running by early 2013.

“Anything that Clyde and I have is not ours. God owns it all,” Sandra said. “What we have we take care of, and once we leave someone else will take care of it.”

The Campaigning Process

Sandra and Theresa’s first task was to create a committee. They approached friends, family and other community connections to put together a dedicated 17-person team.

Then they put their heads together to brainstorm who they would reach out to, including local community organizations, businesses, churches and so on.

It was Sandra’s idea to contact 12Stone Church, which gave $100,000 – the first of many generous donations. 12Stone’s contribution fueled excitement among other churches like Holy Cross Anglican Church and Saint Lawrence Catholic Church, which invited the committee to speak at their services. Even if the committee only spoke for five minutes, their message touched many hearts because generous funds rolled in.

From there, the word continued to spread as the committee spoke at other Christian organizations, women’s groups, rotary clubs, Sunday schools and even the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

“After a while, you just learned to talk about it wherever you went,” Theresa said. “I even started dropping off brochures at retail stores and other places I came across throughout the day.”

The team also conducted a letter-writing campaign to friends and family, which raised nearly $90,000 through checks that ranged from $5 to $5,000.

“It wasn’t about the size of the check but the size of people’s hearts,” Sandra said. “We were thrilled every time we got even a $25 check. That’s a lot of money for some people and a lot of money to us.”

Sandra and Theresa both say that every little bit helped PADV reach the larger goal.

The committee also received $750,000 from the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, an anonymous gift of $600,000 and a $1,630,000 contribution from the Gwinnett County Community Development Block Grant to purchase the land and building for the new shelter. In all, the campaign received an estimated 21 large gifts and 152 others.

Coming Full Circle

After months of campaigning and fundraising, the committee is close to reaching their goal. Sandra and Theresa feel like the Gwinnett community is aware of PADV and standing strong behind its mission.  

“To me, this has been one of the most rewarding projects I’ve taken on,” Sandra said. “And I don’t like calling it a project because it’s about people and the lives of their children.”

In addition to improving the lives of victims of domestic violence, the Gwinnett Safe House creates jobs for those hired to work on the construction of the building.

“I love things that help people. PADV cares about the lives of our women and children,” Sandra Said. “It’s not how much money we have but what we have done for others.”

Sandra and Theresa both talked about how moved they were by the people they met and the stories they heard along the way.

“You know you’re doing what you are supposed to be doing when you can talk about it to anyone and people can come and talk to you,” Theresa said. “I’ve been in different places where people come up and ask to talk to me. We’ve been able to help people get to where they need to be.”

But the work doesn’t stop here.

“The future is going to be keeping the shelter going,” Theresa said. “Educating people about PADV’s mission is really important. We have to continue letting people know we’re helping and here. We have to make people aware that PADV provides help and hope for them to escape domestic violence.”

Sheryl Sellaway

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Sheryl Sellaway

In recognition of our 25th Gala, we are launching the PADV Legacy Society. This society will honor people who have graciously given their time, energy and resources to shape PADV into the life-changing organization it is today.

Our next inductee, Verizon Wireless Executive Director of Public Relations Sheryl Sellaway, is a woman of many hats. Over the past 10 years, Sellaway has served PADV as an active board member, chair, vice-chair and executive committee member. She began her PADV journey through Verizon, a company with a long-standing commitment to domestic violence.

“One of my employees was looking to get us more involved with the organization,” Sellaway said. “That year we sponsored Hearts with Hope. It all began there.”

In addition to Hearts with Hope, over the years Verizon has also been an annual sponsor of the PADV’s Domestic Violence in the Workplace conferences and hosted employee drives to collect items for the shelter.

“Over the years, we’ve seen Domestic Violence in the Workplace as a great opportunity to address the issue and prevention—and serve as a beacon for other companies,” Sellaway said.

Upon joining the Board of Directors, Sellaway was able to equip her co-workers with tools to address domestic violence and show internal and external support for the issue. She credits PADV for the knowledge she gained about domestic violence.

“I started going to the workplace conferences and heard more and more stories,” Sellaway said. “I’ve always had empathy for the issue, and yet  the conferences  have served as a place where I could gather more information. And, publicly support an issue that is not often discussed publicly. Remember, the average person will go back to an abusive situation several times. Most people don’t understand that. Sharing the knowledge, along with safety tips has been helpful.

Domestic Violence does not stop at home, according to Sellaway. The emotional distress can follow victims to the workplace. She charges companies to take action.

“Let’s focus on prevention and eradicate domestic violence long-term, while encouraging survivors,” Sellaway said. “We want to see a long term drop and we want to encourage victims to be survivors—some within our own company. Sellaway also believes, at times,  the media has desensitized the severity of domestic violence.

“Most people don’t think about how serious an issue is until they watch a tragedy on the news,” Sellaway stated. “Sometimes we trivialize violence because of the way women are treated in movies, music and entertainment. These attitudes can formulate in peoples’ minds on how women are supposed to be treated.”

Support, knowledge and compassion are three qualities Sellaway says the community should possess regarding domestic violence.

“Seek to be actively involved and not a bystander,” Sellaway said. “You are showing empathy and compassion by acknowledging the problem. You don’t have to be survivor to support our mission, but a person who cares about the lives of children and families.”

Kelly Barrett

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Kelly Barrett

In recognition of our 25th Gala, we are launching the PADV Legacy Society. This society will honor people who have graciously given their time, energy and resources to shape PADV into the life-changing organization it is today.

We ask that you consider nominating an individual who has significantly impacted PADV’s progress and development to be a member of our inaugural class. The nomination form can be found here. Once you complete the form, please email it to Meagan Fulmer at meagan@padv.org.

Board of Directors member Kelly Barrett is our next inductee. She has served PADV for a total of six years, devoting two years to the Hearts with Hope host committee and four to the board.

“I am so humbled and honored to be asked to join the Legacy Society, “ said The Home Depot Vice President of Internal Audit and Corporate Compliance. “There are so many great people who are dedicated to PADV. I am very impressed with the level of commitment towards our mission.”

Genevieve Bos, a close friend of Barrett’s, first introduced her to PADV.

“Genevieve was on the Hearts with Hope steering committee and asked me if I would serve on the host committee,” Barrett explained.  “After a few years, I was asked to join the board. I enjoy the whole notion of helping women.”

Barrett believes it is her civic duty to give back to women who are less fortunate.

“One reason many women don’t leave abusive relationships is because they don’t have the financial support,” Barrett said. “For somebody like me who is fortunate, I felt like I had to share my opportunities. Working with PADV is very empowering.”

After viewing the new Gwinnett Shelter for the first time, Barrett experienced another empowering moment.

“As I pulled into the driveway, I saw how beautiful the shelter was and I just started crying,” Barrett said. “Imagine if you were a woman in a domestic violence situation … to arrive at this safe haven, see that gorgeous facility and finally feel safe. We toured the inside and after the meeting I just started crying again. I thought to myself, ‘This is what it’s all about. We are fulfilling our mission.’”

While working with PADV, Barrett’s eyes were opened to how many people are affected by domestic violence not only in their personal lives, but also in the workplace.

“Domestic violence is a difficult subject to talk about,” Barrett said.  “I now understand the importance of being supportive and providing a support system.”  

Barrett has also gained several meaningful relationships through service. She cites her bond with fellow Board members as another rewarding result of her PADV experience.

“We have been through a lot together,” Barrett said. “We have all worked hard to support and strengthen the organization. I will always cherish and value the relationships I made through PADV.”