Shelter sees success after equal justice event


By Meladi Brewer

GREENVILLE — Darke County Shelter From Violence received donation after a “Spring Fling” women’s event.

A full house heard featured speakers Montgomery County Commissioners Judy Dodge and Deb Lieberman discuss the topic at hand: “Breaking Glass Ceilings” by addressing equal pay for women and domestic violence.

The event took place on Friday, April 21 at the Sure Shot Tap House in Greenville, and with April being “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” (SAAM), The Darke County Shelter From Violence (DCSFV) coordinator Annie Sonner also spoke to the attendees about her personal experiences and what the DCSFV provides to the community.

“I knew what domestic violence was when I was a child. Then I married a man, and I knew what it was for 14 and a half more years,” Sonner said.

Sonner explained that due to her experience, she had always been interested in what happens to people to make them act in such a violent manner. She recalled her time running rescue for three years where she found herself gravitating toward the children.

“I remember once there was a lady who had gotten hit in the head with a toolbox, and she just didn’t want to go to the hospital. I tried to comfort the kids, and there were more incidents where I would think ‘what the hell happens to these people after I leave,’” Sonner said.

Having been a member of the DCSFV for almost 32 years, Sonner had numerous stories to share in all different lights. She paused in the middle to say she wished people would get taught critical thinking skills.

“I think these are things that should be taught in schools. Teach kids how to work out different situations, and I think women need to know the different stages of development in children,” Sonner said.

Sonner explained she just really cares about people and loves kids, and that is her driving force to continue to try and make a difference in the lives of the community. She said kids should be the first to be helped, as they are the future of the country.

“I think there are great people in this county to work with, but they are working with a large population. There is more demand than we have supply,” Sonner said.

Sonner said everybody just wants to be loved and deserves to be, and agrees that the parents are a child’s first teachers.

“If you don’t have good teachers, then there will be poor self-esteem. I still struggle with it, but there have been other people who plucked me out and taught me things,” Sonner said.

She spoke about how even though she did not have the best of “teachers” growing up, she was able to grow and essentially be pulled out of the loop by those who took a chance on her. Showing Sonner that she is loved and important. Sonner wishes to be the same light to the children of Darke County.

“I always try to be kind, firm, and let them know I care, but a lot of times they come from a bad place,” Sonner said.

She encouraged everyone to take a step back, and instead of judging a parent, ask “how can they make the family work without a good partner that will help you?” She understands most people are trying to survive in this day in age.

“I try to teach them what domestic violence does to kids because that is the damage,” Sonner said. “I just care about them, and I’m not going to quit until my funeral.”

Sonner not only meets with individuals, she speaks at local schools, takes out literature, and is personally available to whomever needs her. She says it’s a 24/7 job for her, and it is not only about women. She is willing to work with men who would like help as well. Making a difference in the lives of others is what Sonner strives to do, and Commissioners Lieberman could not have agreed more.

“The one thing about being a county commissioner is we get to touch the lives of the people in our community and make a difference,” Lieberman said.

She continued to say the commissioners get to choose what they want to be a champion for and was happy with that night’s turnout regarding the discussion of important topics. The funds that were raised that evening were for the Darke County Shelter From Violence and touched Lieberman, as she had worked a lot with the Artemis Domestic Violence Center in Dayton.

It touched her heart to see the community care, and it touched everyone when the winner of the 50/50 drawing donated her half of the earnings to the DCSFV. Attendees were also able to participate in door prizes, silent auction, and a photo context.

A water color painting of a “sexual assault” survivor, who recently passed away, painted by local artist John Buell was offered as a fundraiser through the silent auction. The event was co-sponsored by Darke Women United, Darke County Farmers Union, DFL, and the Darke County Democratic Party.

A special thank you goes to the Can-Do Women, event sponsors, Glass Breakers, speakers, and volunteers for making the evening possible. Also a thank you is extended thank you goes out to all who attended the event.

For more information or to contact the DCSFV, visit

To contact Daily Advocate Reporter Meladi Brewer, email [email protected].

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