-- A women's shelter in Asheboro has served as a safe place, a haven, for battered women and children for nearly 37 years.
One of the founders of the Randolph County Family Crisis Center which operates the shelter was fondly remembered Tuesday. Maria Bliss, who died March 15, was honored during the center's Fourth Annual Leading Ladies Luncheon for which 275 women -- and a few men -- were invited to attend at Pinewood Country Club.
Judge Lillian Jordan reviewed the history of efforts to provide equal rights for women in Randolph County, noting that Bliss was involved in these in the 1970s. A result of the discussions and studies was the opening of the Shelter for Battered Women in the county in 1979. This shelter remains in its original location, continuing to provide services to women and their families seeking refuge from domestic violence situations.
Bliss served on the center's board for more than 30 years. Dare Spicer, executive director, told Jordan that she didn't remember a time when Bliss "was never not involved," even in the weeks before her death.
Jordan was tearful as she announced that the Family Crisis Center Board of Directors voted to name the shelter after "one of my dearest friends." A plaque will be installed on the front porch of the shelter, designating it as the "Maria Bliss House."
Present on Tuesday was Glenn Colston Barefoot, now of Wilmington, who was the first president of the Council on the Status of Women in Randolph County and Women's Aid Inc. of Randolph County which is now the Family Crisis Center.
Also in attendance were Sara Ryan of Asheboro, the shelter's first employee who served as program director; and Mary Joan Pugh, also of Asheboro, who was City of Asheboro planner at the time and "very instrumental in finding the house and persuading the city to buy it and deed it to Women's Aid."
Others who spoke at the Family Crisis Center's signature fund-raiser for the Asheboro area also included Dare Spicer; Jennifer Clayton, fund-raising committee chair; and Robin Coates, board member, who introduced the guest speakers as her "Montgomery neighbors." Father Joe Mitchell of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd gave the invocation and Asheboro Police Chief Jody Williams provided remarks about the services the center provides.
Myra Gaddy, victim advocate for the Randolph County Sheriff's Office, presented the 2016 Leading Lady Award to Nancy Butler, administrator of Family Court in Randolph, Moore and Montgomery counties.
This year's theme was "Cultivating Hope."
* For more information, go to the website at www.randolphfcc.org.
Parents share Jamie's story
Jan and Ron Kimble of Charlotte founded the Jamie Kimble Foundation for Courage in honor of their daughter, Jamie. The 31-year-old was killed by her ex-boyfriend on Labor Day 2012.
"We don't want others to perish," Ron Kimble told those attending the Leading Ladies Luncheon, about the foundation's mission which focuses on domestic violence prevention, education, awareness and research. "You have a great program in Randolph County."
Jan Kimble shared details about their daughter's life, describing Jamie as a "beautiful girl. Her smile would light up the room." She was in the Top 10 of her class at J.H. Rose High School in Greenville and was named Outstanding Senior at the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated.
Jamie Kimble began working in the medical field and pharmaceutical sales, making a switch to Coca Cola Consolidated in Charlotte where "she was a rising star." She loved sports, especially her Tar Heels, and to travel.
However, Jan Kimble said their daughter was in an abusive relationship which was emotional. "It wasn't physical until the day she died." Over the course of seven years there were break-ups and retaliations, the two always getting back together. The boyfriend became controlling, telling her that "he would kill himself or her or her loved ones" if they broke up. But, Jamie Kimble realized she had to end the relationship, knowing the boyfriend would never change.
Three months later, he drove halfway across the country to meet her. He shot and killed her and then himself.
"Our lives have never been the same," Jan Kimble stated about their decision to start the foundation by "helping others." Ron Kimble is Charlotte's deputy city manager and on the board of Safe Alliance, which also aids domestic violence victims, and Jan Kimble is Harper Corporation's employee relations manager. They also have a second home in Montgomery County.
The foundation provides support and information related to teaching about healthy relationships and helps fund partners who provide research and develop best practices for preventing domestic violence.
* Further information can be found at www.JamieKimbleFoundationForCourage.org.
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