A new calling for this caring town


Grace Center will help the vulnerable and change lives


Texas Type Ken Esten Cooke

Christine and I attended a special event on Friday night, one that will hopefully serve as a catalyst to open people’s eyes to a problem unseen through the “Aspenly” image of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County. (Insert eye roll.)

A dinner for supporters of The Grace Center was the first of many informational sessions explaining the vision for a local women’s shelter. Some generous person has donated land (that’s not cheap around here) and the board has its nonprofit paperwork ready to go. The idea came about after members of the Gillespie County Ministerial Alliance learned the most frequent call for law enforcement was responding to domestic violence.

The goal of The Grace Center will be to provide housing, food and support services to victims of domestic violence, which are too often women and their children. At this center, these victims can get support, be welcomed into a supportive and nonjudgmental environment, and learn their options for transitioning to another phase of life.

We’ve written before about domestic violence and its prevalence, even in our community that is thought of as charming and, well, Mayberry-ish. (Maybe not so anymore.) Domestic violence calls are a response to many things — the stresses families have with finances, jealousies, immaturity, vindictiveness and more. We all have our weaknesses, and too many let their weakness be manifested through physical violence. Many times, it is a learned trait after being raised in a home with a violent parent.

I was so fortunate to be raised in a home free of parental violence. Today, my parents are still in love at ages 84 and 82. But I was fortunate to not have to worry about that as an everyday stress as a child.

Yet too many children do live with it today. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that:

• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (beating, burning or strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

• One in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of those children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

• Between 21 to 60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from abuse.

It’s easy to see how it becomes a vicious cycle.

And it doesn’t just happen in blue-collar workers where finances may be a stress point. One woman who spoke about how the facility in Boerne changed, and perhaps saved, her life had an MBA and a sixfigure salary. But she struggled with a man who couldn’t control his anger and who manipulated her in mental and physical ways.

It takes bravery to admit that to a roomful of strangers, yet it was obvious part of her new calling is to help others who may be in a position she faced, and make sure fewer victims live in these terrifying situations.

The Grace Center will be a place of healing and hope. It will be able to house dozens of families and it will be built with the possibility for expansion (a sad reality as our population grows).

There are so many good people on this initial board of directors, talented architects working on the facility plans, and generous and kind-hearted donors ready to assist. We thank those who spearheaded this effort and we hope everyone reading this will also agree to pitch in and help get this center constructed.

It is this community’s new calling.



National Domestic Violence Hotline

(800) 799-7233


Lastly, a few words from business thinker Seth Godin. These concern the time we spend on our cell phones:

Wasting it

When you bought your first smartphone, did you know you would spend more than 1,000 hours a year looking at it? Months later, can you remember how you spent those hours?

When you upgraded to a new smartphone, so you could spend more hours on it, did you think about how you had spent so much of your “free” time the year before?

If we wasted money the way we waste time, we’d all be bankrupt.

Mr. Godin’s good thoughts apply to everyone. There is nothing like a real connection, a real conversation or reading a real book.