PONTIAC (WXYZ) - The person we're now shining the spotlight on volunteers at an organization that assists people during what may be their darkest hour. Those who know her best describe her as indispensable, which is why she is our Detroit 20/20 Person of The Week.
Her name is Kathy Elston and she volunteers at Haven; Oakland County's only comprehensive program for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Haven provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 20 thousand people a year. That’s something that just wouldn’t be possible without volunteers like Kathy.
"One of the toughest things to do is go to a large gathering that's there for Haven and you know that at least 25 percent of the people there have been touched by domestic violence and it's hard to go to those and not look at people like... Is it you? Is it you? Because you know some of the people in the room are either abusers or being abused."
Domestic violence is a topic Kathy is quite familiar with. She herself is a survivor. She says a near death experience 37 years ago left her with a changed perspective on the subject. She now knows domestic violence is a much bigger problem than most realize. She also knows education is the key to ending the epidemic.
"When the opportunity came up in the early 2000s to be on Haven's board I jumped at the chance."
She's been a fixture at Haven ever since; spending more than a decade on the board of directors, spearheading various committees and even serving as chairwoman. Doing all this while leaving a tremendous impact on everyone she comes in contract with.
Carole Winnard-Brumm is the executive director of The Haven Foundation. She says, "Kathy really inspired me and others and acted as a role model when she was on the board because she's so passionate and so focused on Haven and its vision that she encouraged the rest of us to kind of go all in for Haven and taught us that our responsibility as board members was to do everything would could for Haven and its clients."
And when time came for someone else to take over as chairperson, Kathy volunteered to help on front desk! She now Assists others who find themselves in need of support or just someone to talk to. That’s why she is our Detroit 20/20 Person of The Week.
Kathy says, "Hopefully it helps them to see somebody behind the front desk who does understand where they've been."