Not much feels more like family than setting a table and sitting down to a meal together. It's a ritual marking completeness, connectedness and a calm relaxation at the end of hectic day.
It's what is so special about the holidays - family gathering together to smile, laugh and share a special moment.
But what if just one member of that family is missing? There's an empty place at your table. A void. A loss. Brokenness.
That's exactly the reality for 12 families in Lycoming County. Children, parents, cousins and friends sit down at a table missing its final piece every day as a result of domestic violence.
"The Empty Place At the Table" is a tangible representation of loss. Plates, cups and flatware represent just how much is missing when a family is incomplete. The places stand for each mother who isn't listening to her teenage daughter talk about her classmates and ask for advice.
They represent children who aren't telling jokes and scrunching their noses up at the lima beans; a father who never got to meet his daughter; a young wife who will never experience too many of life's joys.
As you read this list of names, think about your dinner table and remember these families who are incomplete as a result of domestic violence.
Dee Wilson - 1954-1996, 42 years old, mother of three children.
Jenifer Powell - 1976-1997, 21 years old.
Jennifer Witmer - 1965-1998, 32 years old, mother of three.
Miriam Illes - 1951-1999, 48-years-old, mother of one.
Tramain Glisson - 1978-1999, 21 years old, father of one.
Susan Yasipour - 1996-2001, 4 years old. She liked Barney, cherry tomatoes and Little People toys.
Stephanie Sees, 1970-2002, 32-year old, mother of one.
Kalib Nash Blase - 1997-2002, 5 years old. He liked flowers, the History Channel and playing Bingo with his grandmother.
Traci Wertz - 1970-2004, 34 years old, mother of five.
Melanie Salgado, 1969-2004, 34 years old, mother of two.
Christine Montgomery - 1972-2005, 32 years old, mother of two and stepmother to three.
Cherilyn Kephart - 1974-2013, 38 years old, mother of two.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and at 6 p.m. Oct. 21, the YWCA Northcentral PA will host a candlelight vigil to remember and honor these lives that have been lost. Witnesses, survivors, advocates and family members are all welcome to attend, to speak if they wish and to show their support for those are living with violence and those who have broken free. If facing a frightening and abusive situation, call Wise Options today at 800-326-8483. Someone will answer and someone is here to help.