"We want to make sure that the women that come here, first and foremost, feel a sense of safety," said Zanett Ellington, administrative assistant for Christian League for Battered Women, a domestic violence center that operates a shelter named Tranquility House. "For any person that's going through a domestic situation, they're very fearful. So [it is important] they come to a place that is a safe haven -- it's nice, it's clean, it's organized -- [and] we have different things in place for them to be able to go and get the resources that they need. ... Some ladies that come here [only] have the clothes that are on their back. The children have the clothes that are on their back. ... We have women in here that are in their early 20s and we've had an elderly lady.
"Domestic violence does not have any particular race, any particular socioeconomic group. It affects many people. ... We noticed today on the fax sheet that came out that Georgia now is ranked fifth in deaths that occur with domestic violence. We do see on the news -- [for example] as of yesterday a lady and her child were shot in Rockdale County," she said, referring to a domestic shooting on Tuesday. "It's just a reminder that so much is going on in the world now that we need to have a place like Tranquility House to provide [for] these women because we don't think domestic violence is going to end anytime soon."
To help maintain its current level of services, the nonprofit is organizing a golf tournament Oct. 7 at the Calhoun Elks Club. Registration will begin at 9 a.m., followed by a 10 a.m. tee time. Entry fees for the Lauderdale tournament are $340 per team and $85 per individual. Along with $5,000 being awarded to the golfer making a hole-in-one, other contests will include longest drive and closest to the pin.
Proceeds from the benefit will help operate Tranquility House, which also could include providing assistance with utility and transportation expenses.
"The shelter is solely run by the volunteers and mostly private donations," Ellington said. "We do have some major sponsors. The United Way, the Elks help us a lot. But most of it is private donations, and we know that in the current climate, donations are down and yet it still costs a lot to maintain the facility."
Formed in 1985, the domestic violence center and its shelter meets the needs of women and their children by providing a safe environment for them to temporarily stay and work toward future goals like securing housing, education or a job, if needed. Typically, the individuals reside at the shelter for 30 to 60 days, during which a support group, legal advocacy and community resources are at their disposal.
"Domestic violence is more than just hitting, of course," said Carolyn Smith, case manager for Christian League for Battered Women. "It can be financial abuse, sexual abuse, verbal, emotional, isolating [someone], controlling them. So we have a support group here every week [and] we encourage them to go to that so they can realize they are not alone. ... [This shelter is] needed because we have like a houseful now. And my heart bleeds for the children. They are the innocent victims caught in this."
For more information about the golf tournament, prospective participants and sponsors need to contact the Christian League for Battered Women at 770-386-8093. The domestic violence center also operates a crisis line, which is 770-386-8779.