MONTVILLE, NJ – The Gloria Foundation, a charity begun by Montville Township resident Karen Arakelian, held a fundraiser at the Waterside Restaurant to benefit the Morris Family Justice Center on May 10, which raised $30,000.
The Center is a comprehensive Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter service center, which helps victims of domestic violence.
Arakelian founded the Gloria Foundation in 2014, in memory of her mother Gloria. Its mission is to help provide resources to local safe houses and domestic violence organizations.
At the fundraiser, Arakelian’s son, Zack Kahn, and Emily Michalak performed a cover of the Eminem and Rihanna song "Love the Way You Lie," which is about both sides of an abusive relationship.
“The lyrics of the song are violent and sad,” Arakelian said. “Domestic abuse doesn’t only affect women.”
Arakelian said that what she liked about the MFJC is that in addition to supporting women, the center also counsels men, who are also in need of services.
“[The MFJC] wants to break the cycle and have healthy relationships,” Arakelian said.
“The work we do would not be possible without the help of organizations like the Gloria Foundation,” said Helen Le Frois, Vice President of Development at the Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter (JBWS).
Le Frois thanked Arakelian for not only raising dollars but also awareness about the issue of domestic violence.
“The Gloria Foundation’s six-figure pledge to support the Morris Family Justice Center is phenomenal, and through your help tonight, we are providing services in a manner that is a proven national best practice as identified by the Department of Justice.”
Le Frois then introduced Robin, a domestic abuse survivor who is now a Domestic Violence Response Team Manager at the JBWS.
“This is not easy for me to speak about,” Robin said. “I train those who respond to police stations to assist victims. I train responders in empathy – not sympathy. To try to walk in their shoes. I lived in their shoes for 20 years. I was scared, confused, and a mother, running from a 14-year relationship. He was controlling from the day we met. I was isolated and very much alone.”
Robin said when she called an abuse hotline years ago, she was told to call the police, but worried her abuser would kill her, and knew she had nowhere to go. She worried that no one would believe her and wondered if perhaps she deserved the abuse she was receiving. She went back to her abuser and was told the rules were simple: do as she was told. In hopelessness, she prayed for death at times. After becoming a mother, she realized she had to get out and was able to escape to the JBWS.
“People living with domestic violence are surviving a personal war each and every day, and they need our help,” Robin said. “The Center is a tremendous step in assisting victims and their families. It’s a single location where law enforcement assistance, legal services, counselors and children’s services are all available under one roof. It’s a place where people living in fear can not only get information and change their lives, they can also obtain a flicker of hope that a different life is, in fact, possible.”
Robin said she hoped attendees would take home the message that “the face of domestic violence is everywhere.”
“They are your co-workers, your children’s teachers, your mail carriers…” she said.
To learn more about the Gloria Foundation, go to Gloria.