Carolyn Fish explained on Thursday that although the Rockland Family Shelter was well known by its current name, it was time for a change after 34 years. She said many domestic violence victims thought because shelter was part of the agency’s name that they would have to leave their partner if they called the 24-hour hotline.
“We realized the time had come to find a name that would be clearer, that would be broader,” said Fish, now executive director of the Center For Safety & Change.
“The new name reveals our vision for the future and the fact that we do many more things than just provide shelter.”
Fish provided the explanation at the agency’s Open House, which was held in conjunction with the start of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Fish said the New City-based agency, which assists survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, has been fortunate to have partners in county and state government who support its efforts.
Fish told the gathering that they all working together to end violence in the community against women and girls and to change the normative behavior that allows those actions.
Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef and Legislative Chairwoman Harriet Cornell issued proclamations declaring October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Rockland.
“Rockland Family Shelter has been a leader in focusing on ending the silence, ending the silence about domestic violence and providing the opportunity for victims to have a place to go,” said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee.
She added, “We need to stand together and assure that the silence ends.”
Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski said the importance of providing outreach and services cannot be underestimated.
“It really comes down to a community of owning this issue, of recognizing this issue,” he said.
Fish noted that the criminal justice system in Rockland has been supportive of victims and the agency has partnered with the district attorney’s office on many projects. District Attorney Tom Zugibe explained his office will be working with the Center for Saefty & Change on new projects over the next six to 12 months.
“It’s not just limited to issues dealing with sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Zugibe. “The family shelter provides support services and informational services to victims on all crimes working out of my office and many people aren’t aware of that.”
He said the murder in North Rockland last week of a woman by her father-in-law was possibly domestic violence. Eugene Palmer is the prime suspect in the shooting death of Tammy Palmer of Haverstraw. Police continue to search for him.
Donna Rabinowitz, a member of the Resource Council and a domestic violence survivor, spoke about how she found help from a support group at the Rockland Family Shelter 10 years ago.
“I feel very fortunate to be one of the survivors,” she said. “We (the Resource Council) want to reach out and make the world a better place for other survivors.”
Fish announced an expansion of the Center’s services with its opening of an office five days a week at the Martin Luther King Center in Spring Valley.
She said the Center’s Department of Education has been renamed the Lynn Sheinkin Department for Education and Social Change in memory of the former executive deputy director who passed away in August after a battle with cancer.