Did you know March is recognized as Women’s History Month? That’s right; it’s a celebration throughout the world of all the wonderful women throughout the years who have contributed to humanity’s rich heritage. In the United States, it started back in 1911 as International Women’s Day.
At Laurel House, we honor all the women throughout the years who have been recognized as pioneers in various industries, studies, and in the arts. There are however, a special group of ladies who we especially hold dear to our hearts; our founding mothers.
What’s that? You didn’t know Laurel House has founding mothers? Well we do! Without this group of courageous, brave, and kindhearted ladies, Laurel House would not have existed.
In 1974 a group of ladies (some of which are today’s founding mothers) named Sue Fields, Betty Aptaker, Lillian Orr, and Joan Stuart discussed the need for a women’s center. Their philosophy in setting up this Women’s Center was simple; it’d consist of “women helping women.” Their ideal center would have programs consisting of transitional support groups, a domestic violence committee, health committee, and counseling. From 1974 through 1975, the women continued working on making their goal a reality. It was also during this time that the women learned of the need for domestic violence services.
The phone number they had used for their Women’s Center had increased in calls from women fleeing domestic violence situations. Most of these women called the Women’s Center phone number crying for help because they had just fled their abusive home life (most often with their children in tow) and had nowhere else to go. The ladies who ran the center as well as board members, often at times took these women and their children into their own homes to provide them with safe haven. As these types of calls increased, the group of women realized that there was a definite need of services for women affected by domestic violence. They then took it upon themselves to find a way to answer that need.
As time went on, that small group of ladies separated themselves from the Women’s Center and created a new agency called “Laurel House.” With a new name, the ladies searched for a property to set up their shelter. As they searched the surrounding Montgomery County communities, they came across another organization that was willing to rent them their facility for 6 months and afterwards they would have to find another location. As time went on, that organization could no longer afford to operate and the building was transferred to Laurel House and in 1980 the Laurel House’s shelter was established.
Today, Laurel House continues to carry out the vision of its founding mothers by serving and empowering victims of domestic violence. While our shelter still provides a safe and nurturing environment to hundreds of women and children on a yearly basis, Laurel House also provides individuals with counseling services, referral programs, advocacy, children programs, and community education.
Like so many great women throughout history, Laurel House’s founding mothers saw a need for change and took it upon them to be that change. It is through their selfless acts and passion for helping others that Laurel House exists today. In honor of Women’s History Month we salute the founding mothers for all they have given!