Dear Editor:

Chinese New Year 2013 has come and gone, and with it, the opportunity to once again raise awareness and funds to support the womens shelter in the Columbia Valley.

Debbie Neault had a vision, to build a womens shelter so that the women in the Columbia Valley would not have to leave their friends and family when fleeing domestic violence. Chinese New Year became her way to have a good time while raising both awareness and funds to that end. And raise funds she did to the amount of $73,000 before she became ill. Debbie started the Columbia Valley Family Violence Prevention Society (CVFVPS) to gain charitable status and to increase the awareness of how domestic violence affects the community as a whole. Even before Debbie became ill, it was apparent that more than a building was necessary. The shelter would need money to maintain a staff and programs to help women in the shelter.

It was at this time that we began to negotiate with the Family Resource Centre (FRC) as they were (and still are) providing safe homes and womens programming.

Before Debbie died,the CVFVPS and the FRC came to an agreement.

In 2011 and 2012, the Family Resource Centre carried on the Chinese New Year event, but no one could replace Debs energy and ability to network in this community, and these events fell short of the previous years.

This year, we were faced with finding a new venue and a new way to have a good time and raise both awareness and funds.

Have you seen the ads with the B.C. Lions football team player telling us that domestic violence is not just a womens issue but a community issue? This led me to cheer, though I dont watch much football.

I felt this new understanding is a great breakthrough for all of us and that men should be included in the Chinese New Year event to again raise awareness and funds to help us put an end to domestic violence in the Columbia Valley. I had hoped that these changes would be seen as a necessary change to help us fulfill Debbies vision of a womens shelter in the Columbia Valley. I cannot think of a more honourable or respectful way to remember my good friend Debbie Neault.

Susan Claus

Board Member, Invermere Family Resource Centre