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Harry Sidhu, Anaheim City Council Member

Bringing Our Community Together at This Special Time of Year

Anaheim, CA, Nov.25, 2009
By Anaheim City Council Member, Harry Sidhu

On Thanksgiving Day, my family and I will once again be volunteering at the Annual Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner Event hosted by Honda Center, the Anaheim Ducks, and We Give Thanks, Inc.

For the past twenty-two years, La Casa Garcia Restaurant and We Give Thanks, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization founded by restaurateur and philanthropist Frank Garcia, have been serving free Thanksgiving Dinners to those in need in the greater Orange County region. Honda Center has hosted the event for the past three years.

Through the ongoing generous support of individual donors, corporate sponsors, and hardworking volunteers, the We Give Thanks mission of bringing our community together continues… with over 20,000 expected to attend this Thanksgiving.

At this special time of year, I share these timeless words of President Ronald Reagan: “Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks.” [Excerpt from Thanksgiving Day Proclamation 1981 - President Ronald Reagan.]

In sincere appreciation and gratitude,


Anaheim Family Justice Center: Delivering Compassionate Action in Orange County

At this special time of Thanksgiving, the following words of Theodore Roosevelt bear repeating: “Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.” The Anaheim Family Justice Center (AFJC), which recently celebrated its third anniversary, exemplifies how the meaning of these words may be demonstrated through deeds of compassionate action for the good of others.

The AFJC, located at 150 West Vermont Avenue, is the first of its kind in Orange County. By compassionately providing effective, coordinated services and support to people whose lives have been impacted by child abuse, domestic violence, elder/dependent adult abuse or sexual assault, AFJC makes a long-term positive impact on the community. Free services available to every individual who walks through the door include counseling, court support, law enforcement assistance, legal aid, emergency housing, safety planning, support groups, victim compensation, short term childcare, prosecution assistance, transportation, victim advocacy and spiritual support referrals. On-site partners include: Anaheim Police Department; Anaheim City Attorney’s Office; Orange County District Attorney’s Office; Orange County Social Services; CSP Victim Assistance Programs; Women’s Transitional Living Center (WTLC); and Chapman University School of Law (Family Violence Legal Clinic).

It all began with an innovative concept brought to Anaheim by Police Chief John Welter. A multidisciplinary approach would be used to improve victim safety, interagency communication, information sharing, collaboration, and cooperation with community partners. What developed was a shared vision of creating a one-stop help center - a safe, confidential and friendly place of assistance. Through the leadership and support of the Anaheim City Council, City Manager, AFJC Foundation and Advisory Board, along with vital community support, the AFJC became a reality in October 2006. As explained by Chief Welter: “The responsibility for the prevention of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, and elder/dependent adult abuse does not rest with any single individual, group, agency, or organization. It is a responsibility shared by all of our Community Members and Partners.”

During the AFJC third anniversary celebration, Chief Welter stated that half of Anaheim ’s homicides tragically result from domestic issues. “Can you visualize what it’s like to grow up in a household where violence in commonplace?” he asked. “We must stop the cycle.” “This center isn’t just about treating and serving victims,” noted Chief Welter. “It’s about preventing crime.”

Exact statistics on how many are victims of domestic violence every year are hard to come by, largely because most women who experience domestic violence are reluctant to seek out help, making it an under-reported crime. Based a survey taken in 2000 by the California Department of Health Women’s Health Project, about six percent of California’s women (approximately 700,000) have been victims of domestic violence. According to the now defunct OC Almanac, there were a total of 12,796 domestic violence-related calls for assistance in Orange County in 2003. The year before, there had been 12,233 calls, and in 2001 there were 11,896 calls. If those years are any indication, then, sadly, domestic violence continues to be on the increase in Orange County.

The AFJC continues to be a major priority of the Anaheim Police Department. “As a police organization, we are committed to do as much as possible to break the cycle of family crime that inevitably then results in a more violent society,” said Chief Welter. “We seek to develop a true multidisciplinary approach to the prevention of, and response to, these serious crimes.”

On a broader scale, domestic abuse affects us all. Family violence contributes to many social, educational and health problems in the United States . We have no idea what the annual cost to the nation is today - which is all the more reason why we need more facilities like AFJC delivering compassionate action in Orange County.