A step in the right direction

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 17, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Friday marked the kickoff of Lewis Fitts and Gene Marsh’s annual walk to Tuscaloosa to benefit victims of domestic violence. This year’s walk began in Demopolis Town Square and helps benefit Harriet’s House, a local shelter for victims of domestic violence.

Several people were on hand to welcome Marsh and Fitts to Demopolis and give them a proper sendoff. Among them were father Richard Losch of St. Paul’s Church in Greensboro. Losch said he was glad to see everyone there and hoped they could raise awareness toward the cause.

“Of course this is a very important event because in Alabama domestic violence is a very serious problem,” Losch said. “We are taking some very serious steps against it and we particularly appreciate Mr. Fitts and Mr. Marsh for doing this because it will call attention to domestic Violence week and let everyone know this is not something we have to accept in our society.”

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Page Miller, Executive Director for Turning Point in Tuscaloosa said they were able to bring this event to Demopolis with help from Harriet’s House.

“We called up Harriet’s House and we said Mr. Fitts and Mr. Marsh would like to walk from Demopolis and asked if we could set something up,” Miller said. “They were more than willing to help out put together a proper kickoff.”

Local leaders were also in attendance. Marengo County Commission Chairman Freddie Armstead said county leaders were willing to do whatever they could to help prevent domestic violence in Marengo County.

“Domestic violence is a problem all over the world,” Armstead said. “We want to make sure we do our part to provide some funding to Harriet’s House and do our part to help.”

Armstead said they were glad to have people showing an interest in the cause.

“We appreciate everyone here and their concern and care,” Armstead said. “To do something like this you have really got to care and we are very happy to have them here today. We want to let them know I there is anything we can do to help we will.”

Following Armstead’s comments Demopolis Police Officer Monica Oliver also read a proclamation from Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson declaring this to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Demopolis.

Fitts said the crowds are not always consistent when he has his annual walk, but the message always seems to get through.

“I have been doing this since 1998 and as we have done it year after year the crowd has gone up and down,” Fitts said. “But what happens is as you get this started and you get your leadership and police departments involved it grows. After you start this process people start becoming aware that it is a problem.”

He added it does not take a special effort to help stop domestic violence. Fitts said it only took ordinary people working together.

“We are normal people letting others know that this is not right, this is not normal and we are against it,” Fitts said “Those who have problems can realize that there is hope, there is relief and they can find help.”

Fitts said they would not be able to stop domestic violence overnight. However, he said if everyone stuck together they would see results.

“It can be a slow, gradual process,” Fitts said. “But before you know it people will respond and it will start to get results.”

Before the pair departed Marsh thanked everyone for their support and said they were very happy for the warm reception.

“We really appreciate everyone’s efforts,” Marsh said. “We are really happy to be in Demopolis.”