By Georgiana Francisco | Correspondent
Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton’s Providence House Domestic Violence Services held its official ribbon-cutting ceremony May 11th for its new location on Rancocas Road in Westampton.
Photo Gallery: Bishop blesses new Providence House facility
Bishop David O’Connell, C.M., was on hand to offer a blessing and participate in the open house tour and ribbon-cutting ceremony. Formerly housed in Delran, the support center moved its operations to a larger space to ensure its ability to continue to offer free services for victims of domestic violence.
“It’s a privilege for me as the Bishop of the Diocese to be here today,” said Bishop O’Connell. “I’ve known of the work of Providence House, met some of your guests and graduates, who have been beneficiaries of your great work. It’s very humbling for me to be among people who are so dedicated, who love with such great love, those who work here and run Providence House, those who volunteer, those who help us in so many ways, as well as your guests … This is really where our faith lives,” he said. “As Our Lord said, ‘We do this not for ourselves but we do this for those whom we encounter. We come to serve and not to be served.’”
Prior to the ribbon cutting, Susan Loughrey, director of operations, acknowledged executive director Mary Pettrow and service area director Ron Gehring for their hard work and leadership in making the move a reality, as well as Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton, staff, board members, volunteers and supporters.
“The Providence House staff has a privilege each day to walk alongside those impacted by domestic violence,” Loughrey said. “With a broad continuum of services in both Burlington and Ocean Counties, we’ve been supporting transition from victim to survivor for over 40 years.”
Loughery recalled how Providence House opened its doors in 1978, starting out small and evolving to a full continuum of care to those in need, and providing services such as emergency shelters, safe houses, individual and family counseling, the PALS program which is uniquely designed for children impacted by domestic violence, legal advocacy, a specialized domestic programs, and a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week hotline. The services are at no cost to the individuals in need.
“Providence has been the great beneficiary of thousands of helping hands over those past 40 years which has made it possible for us to serve thousands of families and individuals impacted by domestic violence. The long road we traveled has brought us to here today to this location,” said Pettrow. “Our open house is a celebration not only of having served this community over the years, but also of securing the future of Providence House with this building. There are so many hands that helped with that heavy lift of finding, acquiring, renovating and moving into these offices. It’s a momentous achievement for us in this our fortieth year.”
Pettrow paid special tribute to those who helped to transition the team to its new site. She thanked Ruth Spencer and the generous bequest she made to Providence House that made the building possible. “We want to remember Ruth and know that her gift will promote peace far into future generations,” said Pettrow.
She also thanked Catholic Charities CFO George Bontcue, architects Lammey and Giorgio, board member Frances McEhill, Gehring and business manager Ruth Jackson who gave guidance and unwavering support during this process “making sure that no piece of the puzzle was left behind.”
In addition, Pettrow praised her staff, the Catholic Charities in-house maintenance team who had “abounding patience with us,” and those who donated and planted flowers in memory of those whose lives were lost. “I want to thank them for their efforts in making sure that we have hope for a more peaceful world,” she said.
Among other dignitaries present were Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, Assemblyman Ryan Peters, Burlington County Freeholder Deputy Director Linda Hughes, Westhampton’s police chief Stephen Ent and Brenda Rasher, executive director for Catholic Social Services.
The 6,852-square-foot space now houses the organization’s outreach counseling, community education, and advocacy offices, as well as the domestic violence response team, and boasts a children’s creative art therapy room. All services are confidential and offered free everyone, regardless of gender, age, income, sexuality or religion.