CATS culinary students served lunch to My Sister’s House residents as part of an effort to support domestic violence survivors and spread awareness in the community.

BY KARISSA MILLER

Students at the Career Academy and Technical School in Troutman led a special event on Thursday, which coincided with National Domestic Violence Day, to show their suport for survivors and pamper eight residents of My Sister’s House.

A purple balloon archway was erected in front of CATS, and students wore a purple ribbon on their shirt to raise awareness about domestic violence.

“Students have done a month-long donation drive. So the women who came here got an opportunity to go shopping for clothing for free, for toiletries and any essentials that they needed,” said School Resource Officer Kerry Baker, who organized the effort.

Baker explained that students honor their guests by using the skills that they have acquired at CATS to support each survivor, including:

• Desserts made by Occupational Course Study students for guests to take back to the shelter with them;
• Nursing students shared with them CPR skills;
• Firefighting students demonstrated how to use a fire extinguisher;
• Manicuring students gave clients a manicure and pedicure;
• Photography students took pictures, printed them out and them framed them for guests;
• Automotive students checked the lights on their vehicles; and
• Culinary students prepared a lunch for guests.

The goal is to give students the opportunity to stand with victims so they know they are not alone.

“Our kids respond very, very well to it. It opens their eyes to a lot of things that aren’t talked about a lot. It gives our students an opportunity to embrace reality on a good level … on a level of helpfulness and compassion. It’s really special to see,” Baker said.

Besides honoring the victims, Baker said the event demonstrates that CATS is a good place to send your child to school.

“These women have children and we want their kids to come to CATS. Three things that contribute to domestic violence is lack of vocation, lack of an education and lack of employment,” Baker said.

“We bring those kids here in the future, they get a vocation, get an education and get employed – then we’ve been a part of breaking the cycle,” he added.

Mi Pueblo Mexican Grill in Statesville also donated a catered dinner for My Sister’s House survivors.

Guests speak about making our community safe

Culinary students demonstrated their leadership skills as they served up lunch to their special visitors, who heard welcoming remarks from guests.

Distinguished guests included:
• Iredell-Statesville Schools Superintendent Jeff James;
• CATS Principal Larry Rogers;
• School Board Chairman Martin Page;
• Troutman Town Councilwoman Sally Williams;
• District Attorney Sarah Kirkman;
• Assistant District Attorney Carrie Nitzu;
• Victim Service Coordinator Robin Shea; and
• Troutman Town Manager Ron Wyatt.

District Attorney Sarah Kirkman talks to domestic violence survivors during the luncheon at CATS.

During the luncheon, Kirkman spoke about her office’s assistance with domestic violence victims.

“These people aren’t just people who work in the district attorney’s office, but we are members of the community. As members of the community, we support you. We want you to know that,” Kirkman said.

She said Breast Cancer Awareness Month is also held in October. For a month, breast cancer survivors are celebrated and their is a positive energy associated with the effort to increase awareness.

“I think that’s what we need to do for Domestic Violence Awareness month,” Kirkman said. “We need to celebrate survivors like that.”

The district attorney also commended students for their efforts spreading awareness in the community.

Nitzu, who has worked in the DA’s Office for 19 years, was born and raised in Iredell County.

“I get asked, ‘Why do you want to come back home and prosecute people where you live?’ ” she said. “This is my home. This is my community. I want it to be safe and so part of that is working these domestic violence crimes the best we can. To ensure that the offender pays for his or her crime.”

Nitzu said the staff in the DA’s Office wants to keep the lines of communication open.

“The ultimate goal is for our community to be safe — you to be safe, our children to be safe,” she said.

Victim Service Coordinator Robin Shea is responsible for reaching out to victims. She asks the victim if they have injuries, checks to see if they have medical bills and refers to them to other community programs and services.

“We try and get people to understand the system and that they don’t deserve this kind of treatment. No one deserves to be abused whether it’s emotionally, verbally or physically,” Shea said.

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