By Lyra Bordelon
Recently, the Family Refuge Center (FRC) recognized National Crime Victims Week with several awards to locals for their contributions assisting victims of crime.
Through the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rates of many types of crime have increased, such as domestic assault and child abuse. Several of these awards thanked those actively combating this while calling more attention to it.
In addition to the Greenbrier County based winners, Monroe County Sheriff Jeff Jone, missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints, and more received Beacon of Hope awards.
Although not a comprehensive list, the following Greenbrier Countians were thanked and awarded for their efforts in fighting back against abuse over the past year. What follows are a sampling of their introductions and statements after receiving the award, videos of which can be found on the Family Refuge Center’s Facebook page and website.
Law Enforcement Beacon of Hope – Stephen Hudnall
“Corporal Steven Hudnall has been with the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Department for almost seven years and he is part of the K9 unit,” said FRC Victim Advocate Whitney Harris. “His sidekick’s name is Layla. Hudnall is also known as the internet crimes against children officer. … Officer Hudnall plays a very important role in the work that we do here at FRC. He recognizes the importance of advocates and coordinated community response. Without people like him, our work would be much harder. We appreciate you so much, Officer Hudnall, for the referrals and the compassion you show our victims everyday.”
“Domestic violence, even though it is more prominent than a lot of people like to realize, it gets swept under the rug and we need to quit treating it as the issue that doesn’t exist,” said Hudnall. “We need to bring attention to it. When most people think about domestic violence, they think about physical abuse, which is also very true and very terrible, but we can’t forget about the mental abuse. Sometimes years and years of mental abuse leaves worse scars than physical abuse ever would, and I would just like to bring attention to that. Thank you for this, and hopefully we can keep going forward and making a difference in lives.
Volunteer Beacon of Hope – Margy Green
“This winner is a local artist that creates works based on her dreams and love of nature,” said FRC Director of Community Engagement Jessica Bender. “Currently, you can see her works displayed at Lee Street Studios in downtown Lewisburg. I nominated this artist because of the significant role she played in our 2020 Women’s Night In fundraiser. She led our virtual paint night, which was a first for the Family Refuge Center, and as with all first-time events, it was a learning experience for us all. Not only was this winner flexible throughout the planning, coordination and execution of the event, but she remained positive and kept a great sense of humor, which really and truly made her a joy to work with.”
“I will be looking forward to doing a live paint night, I hope that comes up later in the year,” said Green. “I have a heartfelt need to support this organization that is much needed throughout the area.”
Beacon of Hope for Those Who Serve Individuals with Disabilities – Amber Hinkle
“As a Greenbrier County native, this winner began their work in the field of developmental disabilities in 1988 after receiving their social work degree two years prior,” Bender explained. “In 1990, they opened Open Doors in Lewisburg, a behavioral health agency, along with two others. As a seasoned executive director here, they are committed to the core values and mission of this agency. In addition, they have also participated in many other admirable efforts, including serving on the Greenbrier County Child Youth and Advocacy Center Board of Directors, as well as being appointed by the governor to the WV Developmental Disabilities Council.
“We’re not ones to toot our own horns about the work we do, but we do seriously consider those we serve to be quite wonderful,” Hinkle said. “It’s my honor to serve them, to make sure we advocate for them in every way we can, so they are not victims of any kind of crime or sexual assault.”
Greenbrier County Community Partners Beacon of Hope – Beth Brown
“Beth Brown’s soft spoken demeanor every time you encounter her brings a little light into a dark situation,” Daneen Fair, FRC Elder Abuse Intervention Advocate. “The magistrate clerk is one of the first points of contact when people are seeking relief from an abuser. It’s the clerk’s job to collect the information about the events that have transpired and led that victim to seeking legal relief. This interaction may seem minute and could sometimes be brief, but it’s in those moments that the client is most vulnerable. … Getting a protection order is heavy stuff, to say the least. Beth eases the weight of that process. She greets clients in a sympathetic, non judgemental manner. … If she needs more information, per the judge’s request, she asks in a way that makes the client feel comfortable and like they haven’t done anything wrong. As an advocate, that’s the encounter that ensures the victim becomes a survivor, the victim centered approach.”
Medical Beacon of Hope- Belinda Evans
“WVSOM has over 27 student clubs and organizations that partner with local and national nonprofit organizations each year,” Stephanie Moore, FRC executive director. “Each student group hosts fundraising events and participates in a number of community service projects through the year to help financially support the nonprofit community as a whole. … One particular staff member goes above and beyond for the students of WVSOM. … I’ve had the luxury of working with her on numerous projects over the past few years, and her passion for the school’s mission is prevalent in everything that she does. It is such a privilege to be able to present this year’s 2021 Medical Beacon of Hope Award, on behalf of WVSOM Student Organizations, to Belinda Evans, director of student life.”
State Beacon of Hope – Stephen Baldwin
“In addition to being a prominent voice for the state, he dedicated his time to our organization during this legislative session,” Moore said. “He participated in meetings with members of our work force to hear how certain proposed legislation could affect or advance our mission. During these meetings, he did not just tell us what we wanted to hear, but offered constructive guidance on how to help us increase awareness of the issues victims of crime face on a regular basis.”
“I’m really honored by this, humbled by it, and am really surprised,” Baldwin said. “I would like to accept it on your behalf because I feel like you all do the hard work everyday and I’m just there to support you legislatively on the state level. You do the hard work everyday and I appreciate you.”