BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Hope Harbor Home is a domestic violence shelter in Brunswick County. It's helped thousands of women and children escape the pain and fear of physical and mental abuse. Because of the nature of the women's and children's situation, no clients could be recorded for this story.
"Assault on a female is one of the most cowardly things going," volunteer Terence Connelly said. "If I can come here and help out at hope harbor and relieve the advocates so that they can do their interviews rather than have to answer the phones here."
Connelly has been answering phones at Hope Harbor Home for four years. He and other volunteers are the first voice abused women and men hear when they call for help.
Jo Ann Mathews is on the Hope Harbor Board of Directors, but she volunteered for years before that. She worked as a court advocate for some of the clients and said that experience opened her eyes.
"It really made me aware of how many women are in a desperate situation, a domestic violence situation, and how they really need help and how you can help them overcome the fear and get used to what it's like going into the courtroom," Mathews says.
Mathews's main focus now is getting the word out about Hope Harbor and the thrift stores the charity runs as its main source of income. Volunteers mainly work in the four thrift stores throughout Brunswick County.
There are also opportunities to provide transportation to medical appointments and court dates, to help in crisis situations and to be a court advocate who gives moral and legal support to the battered women.
Executive Director Lynn Carlson says many of the women who are abused as adults grew up in abusive households.
"It's all they've ever seen," Carlson said. "We have the opportunity when they come to us to help them envision a life in which there are healthy relationships which don't involve verbal or emotional or physical violence."
Carlson says volunteer hours are a driving force behind the organization. She says empathy and a non-judgmental attitude are key in helping the clients.
"It changed my life," Mathews said "I can't say that I changed the women's. I tried to help them, and that's what you aim to do. Yes, it's a very gratifying situation to think, 'You know, these people do have a place.' Women have to understand they have a place they can come for help. They can't be so desperate that they stay in the situation. There is some place that will help them, and hope harbor home is that place."
"No, it's not just a woman's job," Connelly said. "it's a human being's job to come and help out in whatever way you can."
Hope Harbor Home adds hope by providing a safe haven for women and children going through the storms of life.
The Hope Chest thrift stores are in Leland, Bolivia, Holden Beach and Oak Island.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer or you're in a domestic violence situation and need help, call (910) 754-5726 or visit ttp://www.HopeHarborHome.org.