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Group honors those who protect others

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Empowering domestic violence victims is not an easy thing to do.

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Employees at the Center for Women and Families deal with this difficulty on a daily basis. They hoped to thank community members that have helped along the way.

The Bullitt County CWF branch created a new Empowerment Award, presented to a local citizen nominated by committee members who has helped in the struggle to end domestic violence.

The inaugural award was presented to Bullitt Family Court Judge Elise Givhan Spainhour.

“Judge Spainhour wants victims to have the support and education they need,” said Susan Selby, CWF senior director of outreach services. “She is passionate about the children, but also for the family as a whole.”

In her youth Spainhour recalled her father, former county attorney Tom Givhan, assisting domestic violence victims.

“People came to the home then,” she said. “There was a woman that visited... Dad did what he could for her, but there were no laws then. Bacn then no one talked about it. There was always an excuse. How many doorknobs could you run into?”

Spainhour said the “seed was planted” to work in law, eventually dealing with her own domestic violence victims as a defense attorney.

“I had a client with two black eyes and it was six weeks after the event,” she said. “The judge at the time referred to it as a domestic dispute. The whole thing has changed for the better.”

Spainhour has sat at the Family Court bench since its inception. She detailed it as a place for children who otherwise had no voice inside a courtroom.

“I’m not a one-woman show,” said Spainhour. “The (CWF) staff is very helpful. Whenever I receive a new docket, CWF representatives are always there. They all love children.”

“I feel that Elyse is very deserving of this award,” said Rep. Linda Belcher, a member of the CWF Board of Diectors. “We need someone like her in Family Court.”

Spainhour said she was stunned when she learned CWF selected her as the Empowerment Award’s first recipient.

“I’m very humbled,” she said. “It just makes me want to try harder.”

Along with Spainhour, three former and current members of the local CWF advisory council received a CARE award for their contributions.

“They were nominated by their peers,” said Selby. “Others have recognized their efforts.”

Former Shepherdsville Police Cap. Ken Barnardi helped link local law enforcement to CWF. He mentioned he made the first domestic violence arrest without police witnessing the event for the Louisville Police in 1985.

“I’ve spent 31 years with police and in that entire time I’ve dealt with domestic violence,” said Bernardi. “I always referred (victims) to CWF.”

Bernardi served three years with the local CWF advisory council before leaving SPD at the end of 2010.

“When I was asked to join I said I’d love to,” Bernardi said. “Having police on the board, it’s just good sense.”

“Ken was one of the few male members,” said Selby. “He was an important representative, and also a police representative. For the work we do that’s an important relationship.”

Today’s Kids co-owner Tammy Ott received a CARE award for contributions made during the renovation of the CWF home office in Bullitt County.

“We made it livable,” she said. “It was a needed cause. We’re happy that people are coming here and using the counseling. They’re wanting it and it’s working.”

Ott, an advisory council member for three years, added that she put forth the effort for women who did not have a CWF location to turn to in past years.

“Tammy was instrumental in preparations, along with her husband,” said Selby. “She lit a fire under people. The community built it and she led the charge.”

“Tammy got everyone here,” said Belcher. “She was not just getting people in, she was also here working.”

Ida Butterworth is coordinator of the HANDS program, a family-oriented educational program for new first-time parents provided through the Bullitt County Health Department.

Selby credited Butterworth with assisting in many community organizations throughout Bullitt County, especially with CWF.

“Ida is always willing to lend a hand and volunteer,” said Selby. “She is always at our meetings. Domestic violence issues are important to her.”

New CWF President and CEO Marta Miranda congratulated all award recipients during a special ceremony at the CWF offices.

“We like to celebrate members who are models of our community,” Miranda said. “With humility, I’d like to say thanks for your help, time and efforts on the local facility.”

Miranda will join local CWF officials at a special community meeting allowing local citizens to learn more about the organization and offer an opinion on the needs and wishes of the community. Refreshments will be available. For more information call (502) 773-7007.

For more information about the Center for Women and Families visit www.thecenteronline.org.