FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s Debra Menich knows the first step is often the hardest for women who need assistance at The Center for Family Justice. She believes a new multi-disciplinary approach for the recently renamed center will address that issue.
The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County announced in September it will change its name in January to The Center for Family Justice. The Center’s headquarters will be located at 753 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport, but will serve women from the entire area, including Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.
Menich has volunteered for the agency for seven years, and has been on the Board of Directors for the past two years. She said the Center will provide a broad range of services under one roof, making it easier for women to report any problems.
“It goes from a crisis center to a destination that offers counseling, physical and emotional support and advocacy,’’ Menich said. “The victims only have to enter once, and only have to tell their story once. It’s a peaceful, safe experience. The hardest step is the first one into the building and saying I need to fix this and move forward. We’re there to make it easier.”
Menich served on the steering committee for the Center and helped strategize its new name and range of services. Her expertise from more than 25 years in the business sector, including her current role as the Director of the Recycling Donations program for the United War Veterans Council, lent itself well to the Center’s goals.
“The team of professionals that work there is wonderful,’’ Menich said of the Center, which is led by Debra Greenwood, the President and Chief Executive Officer, and attorney Judy Ann Stevens. “It has been their vision to bring this to the area for many years. It’s wonderful to work with such professionals and to be able to help them do more for the community. It’s going to be a remarkable change within the community in reducing sexual and domestic assaults. It’s all about empowering women.”
Menich also believes children benefit from the new multi-disciplinary team at The Center for Family Justice. “The mother just has to tell the story once, and the children don’t have to watch her go through it,’’ she said. “They can go into a safe room where they won’t be bothered. There is support for children of all ages.”
Through her association with the Center, Menich has been overwhelmed by some of the situations women have faced. “It’s very hard to see what some women go through,’’ she said. “It also makes you feel like these women have great strength. They’ve reached deep down to make that first step. To be able to help them with their forward motion is terrific. To see them move on to become sustainable, well-grounded individuals is very rewarding.”
Menich also said her employment with Veterans Council helps her in her volunteer role. “There are similarities between the issues that veterans face as well as women who are dealing with abuse,’’ she said. “Post Traumatic Syndrome is a big part of experiencing any type of trauma. It’s meeting a counseling and mental health need. There is definitely a correlation.”