By: Sarah Mitschke | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: June 2007
Sherry Clark, founder and president of f.a.c.e.s., wears her Hope Blossom to spread the message of healing and hope to victims of domestic violence.
On February 10, 2005, 31-year-old Carrie Tudor, a victim of domestic violence, was shot to death by her ex-husband before he killed himself. The incident occurred at Carrie’s workplace in Tulsa. Carrie’s ex-husband, a drug user, was seemingly unhappy, as he talked about suicide, was unemployed and continually stalked Carrie.
Sherry Clark’s daughter had been a long-time friend of Carrie’s, and their families had been close. Clark had an inspiration shortly after the tragic incident. The idea of a nonprofit organization called f.a.c.e.s., standing for Families And Communities Empowered for Safety, suddenly came to her. As the president and founder of the organization, Clark now works with her daughter and Carrie’s other friends to inspire sufferers to get help and others to give help. Projects taken on by f.a.c.e.s help the community. Clark says, “Violence impacts all of us. Once a person is hurt, it is a cost to not just that person but to the whole community.”
Launched in November 2005 as an outgrowth of RSVP/DVIS Court Watch, f.a.c.e.s. takes a new direction in domestic violence awareness. Clark wanted to take a positive, empowering approach to have a bigger impact on the community. According to the mission statement, “f.a.c.e.s is promotion of family safety across the lifespan through education, collaboration, community building and action.”
As part of its mission to educate the community, f.a.c.e.s. gives presentations to a variety of audiences about family safety and how to help others in need. A few presentations include safety among senior citizens, dating safety for teenagers and young adults, Internet safety for all ages and how domestic abuse can impact the workplace.
The most recent project taken on by Clark and the f.a.c.e.s. organization is educating medical professionals to better assess possible domestic violence victims. “The medical community is the last frontier for f.a.c.e.s.,” Clark says. “The community has begun to address schools and the faith community. This is our next challenge.” A committee has been established to include the Tulsa County Medical Society, the Family Safety Center, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, referred to as DVIS, the Tulsa Osteopathic Medical Society and RSVP. With the help of this collaboration, Clark hopes that medical professionals will soon incorporate domestic violence awareness into their practices, enabling them to recommend services for victims to get help and reach safety.
Clark is currently working to implement domestic violence awareness and safety in schools. More teachers are getting involved to keep their students and themselves safe. A recent Oklahoma statute, in conjunction with the Department of Human Services, requires all Oklahoma teachers to spend at least one hour each year in a presentation about assessing victims of domestic violence and how to handle the situation. Volunteers are now being recruited to give group presentations to teachers, doctors and other professionals to impact our community.
Volunteers, whether or not they are victims, help promote healing through knitting projects. Clark is the Oklahoma coordinator for Sheila’s Shawls, a national project that recruits volunteers to knit shawls for victims of all kinds of domestic abuse. Clark added a new local flare to the project with her addition of Hope Blossoms, flowers that are knit to be worn as pins. While some knitters are domestic violence survivors, everyone wanting to make a difference is encouraged to help. While knitting groups have weekly meetings to make shawls and Hope Blossoms, people can privately participate without having to get out of their homes. Non-crafty volunteers can be taught to knit or just donate yarn. The purpose of making healing shawls is to weave good thoughts, healing, hope and love into each piece so it will comfort and warm the recipient. The shawls are distributed through the Family Safety Center and DVIS.
Visit f.a.c.e.s. online at www.facestulsa.org for more information about the nonprofit organization and for knitting groups. If you or a friend or family member is a victim of domestic violence and needs help, call 211 or the Family Safety Center for non-emergency services. Visit the f.a.c.e.s. website for additional options. Help stop the national epidemic and the stigma associated with domestic violence. Call Sherry Clark at (918) 519-3698 today or e-mail her at eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 to get involved.