Vigil to remember women killed by domestic violence in Butler County

Meanwhile, complex for violence victims is rising along Hamilton’s Grand Boulevard.

A noon vigil Thursday in downtown Hamilton will remember those killed by domestic violence, and will start at YWCA Hamilton. At its conclusion, a judge and the family of a local woman killed in the past year will speak about the importance of eliminating this crime.

“This is something we try to do annually to honor the victims of domestic violence, those who have not survived, and to draw attention to National Domestic Violence Month, which is October in every year,” said Wendy Waters-Connell, CEO of YWCA Hamilton. “Of course, we haven’t been able to do this, because of the pandemic. We’re going to do it this Thursday.”

Participants will gather outside the front entrance of the YWCA, 244 Dayton St., and will walk at the government services complex, 345 High St., where Hamilton Municipal Court Judge Dan Gattermeyer will speak.

The procession will start at noon and should reach its destination in about 15 minutes.

Crisis calls to the local hotline for domestic-violence victims “are over 150 percent of what they were before the pandemic,” Waters-Connell said.

The local domestic-violence hotline is 1-800-618-6523, and it is staffed at all hours by YWCA advocates.

The YWCA, meanwhile, has recently taken other steps to deal with domestic violence.

First, it hired a new director for its domestic-violence shelter, Dawn Anderson-Thurmond, who will begin work Monday.

Waters said Anderson-Thurmond has “a passion for domestic violence, and a vision for a domestic-violence shelter that is trauma-informed, and responds to the modern needs of survivors.”

She has more than 10 years of experience advocating for individuals in the county, including domestic-violence survivors, and has worked in both the juvenile and adult justice systems. Also: “Dawn understands the importance of preserving the dignity and well-being of marginalized populations while also protecting and empowering individuals to engage in healthy relationships and self-sufficiency,” Waters-Connell said.

“I’m really impressed with the work they’re already doing, and I can’t wait to join the team and help continue the great work,” Anderson-Thurmond said in an interview.

She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and is a licensed chemical dependency counselor and behavioral health specialist. She was a case-management program manager at Modern Psychiatry and Wellness, supervising outpatient case managers and also worked in the sober-living program.

Anderson-Thurmond also spent the past year providing supportive services and education to women and families to help reduce infant mortality. Before being hired by the YWCA, she already had started intensive training with the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

In the other major step to help domestic-violence victims, YWCA’s new, $11 million complex of apartments for those who need them, as well as new YWCA offices is rising at 1570 Grand Blvd., east of Ohio 4.

“Construction is coming along,” on the new facility, which will have dozens of apartments for Butler County people who are chronically homeless.

The YWCA’s current shelter has eight units, which are only sleeping rooms that share bathrooms, with a common kitchen and common living room. The new shelter will have 15 single-bedroom apartments with their own kitchens, bathrooms and small living rooms that can house abuse victims and their children.

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Already, framing has risen for the first of what will be three levels of a 50,000-square-foot complex, with plywood for the exterior walls, with doors and windows being installed.

“We are on time, as of right now, so we’re still projected to be in, December of ’22,” Waters-Connell said.

Eventually YWCA Hamilton, which was founded in 1900, likely will sell its existing Hamilton building.

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