Can Your Dog Fly?

There are a lot of dogs flying these day. From Service Dogs like Poppy and Clifford to Emotional Support Animals like Pico & Q-Tip.

There are big ones and little ones. Where do they sit? Some lay on the floor under the seat in front of you. Others sit on your lap.

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Service Animals help passengers with everything from Anxiety to PTSD. They might guide the blind or assist someone in a wheelchair. These pets are highly trained.

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Service Animals are generally dogs and sometimes miniature horses. Some of these amazing animals help with medical issues alerting their handler when their blood sugar is low or when they are close to having a seizure.

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Emotional Support Animals calm their owners when they fly. In most cases, these animals are not trained for a specific need. They just love their owners. They provide comfort to help relieve a symptom or effect of a person’s disability.

Emotional Support Animals are generally dogs and cats. Other animals may provide support to their owners like guinea pigs or miniature horses, but exotic animals may not qualify due to risks of harm to others or potential diseases.

Most airlines will allow Emotional Support Animals, with proper documentation from a veterinarian and/or mental health counselor, and small animals such as cats and dogs can be held on the passenger’s lap during the flight.

Regarding airline policies affecting persons flying with animals that are not emotional support or service animals, most airlines charge fees and require the animal to be in a cage that can fit under the seat. If a caged animal cannot be placed under the seat, the animal flies with the luggage. You can find a lot of great information regarding traveling pets on the Department of Transportation website.

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For example, American Airlines is not checking pets right now due to flight changes due to COVID19. In the past, American has been asked to transport an ant colony, a sloth, kangaroos, rabbits, lizards, pigs, crabs, wallabies and monkeys.

With Emotional Support Animals, on the other hand, they are not required to be caged, nor are people charged for flying with an Emotional Support Animal.  In 2017, Delta Air Lines had a quarter of a million passengers who boarded flights with their Emotional Support Animals.

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Peanut cruises along through O’Hare in Chicago

In my own flying adventures I had to ask myself, “Will our dogs fly well or not?” Our Shitzu-Bishon mix named Ollie is hyperactive and skittish around strangers. Peanut on the other hand is calm in most circumstances unless Ollie eggs him on.

Flying with your dog isn’t as ruff as you might think.

Here is a good article on 8 Things to Consider Before Flying With Your Pet

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Below you will find links to pet traveling policies of other airlines flying out of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and Concord, NC.

Air Canada
https://www.aircanada.com/ca/en/aco/home/plan/special-assistance/pets.html

Allegiant Air (flies out to Concord, NC)
https://www.allegiantair.com/traveling-with-pets

America Airlnes
https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/special-assistance/pets.jsp 

Delta Airlines
https://www.delta.com/us/en/pet-travel/overview

Frontier
http://www.airline-pet-policies.com/frontier-airlines-pet-policy.php

JetBlue
https://www.pettravel.com/airline_pet_rules/jetblue.cfm

Lufthansa
https://www.lufthansa.com/us/en/travelling-with-animals

Southwest
https://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/traveling-with-animals/pets/index-pol.html

Spirit
http://www.airline-pet-policies.com/spirit-airlines-pet-policy.php

United
https://www.united.com/ual/en/US/fly/travel/animals.html

Want to bring Fido? Check your Airlines for their Pet Traveling Policies

COVID19 Is Real

Are you being safe in the height of this Coronavirus pandemic? Are you staying home?
I know a lot of us are getting antsy to get out of our homes and back to normalcy, but we need to remain diligent.

It has been since March 23rd that States officially started implementing “Stay at home” orders.

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That’s 37 days for; California, Oregon, Washington, Louisiana, Illinois, Ohio, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Some living in New York City will tell you they have been home for 47 days or more.

As of April 20, there are 42 States asking their citizens to not go out in public unless they absolutely have to. There are a handful of other States were they are utilizing the directive in only a portion their territories.

Now a number of States are looking to reopen as early as May 1st due to public pressure on Governors to get their economies rolling again.

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With all of that said, there are a number of businesses deemed “essential” that may have been better suited to shut down for a period of time.

One of those is the Airline industry. International flights have been basically shut down but not domestic flights. At the current rate, airlines are losing $60 to $100 million per day.

I love working and appreciate the fact that I still can. I love helping people and many passengers are trying to get home to help ailing parents or loved ones. I just hope and pray that the airlines don’t crash and burn into bankruptcy in the process.

Many of the airlines are applying now for the stimulus money the Federal Government is offering. The sad reality is that some of them won’t survive even with the money Uncle Sam gives them.

Some financial experts say it will take at least a year and a half for the travel industry to get back to normal. I hope and pray we see an immediate pick up as States start to reopen next week.

At Piedmont Airlines in Charlotte, NC we have seen a very large drop off of passengers on flights. Current payloads are averaging about 1,600 passengers per day.

Charlotte-Douglas International is ranked as the tenth busiest airport in the United States. In peak travel seasons we board nearly 24,000 passengers every day. That is about 700 flights every day. We’re busy.

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By comparison, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International is ranked the busiest airport in the world. With 2,600 flights per day they are down to 1,200. They have an estimated 104 million people come through their airport every year. That’s hard to imagine.

Even with 1,600 passengers a day coming through our airport that is still a lot of exposure to potential contamination. Boarding only five to ten passengers on a flight, I am still interacting with 20 to 40 passengers each day.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has estimated that 25 to 50 percent of cases may be asymptomatic. If that is true I may be exposed to a couple dozen contaminated people that are not showing symptoms. This does not include my coworkers.

The cruel reality is that I may be symptomatic and not realize it. That is true for any of us.
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This is a real concern. How many are you exposing yourself too.

Airline workers are purposely placing themselves in harms way to insure people can get home to check on loved ones. If you do not have to fly right now, please stay home.

Some States are now adopting a wear masks in public ordinance to help the continued mitigation of the virus.

The airlines are trying to follow suit. This is a good thing.

As employees we have been asking for masks, hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes for weeks. Due to the worldwide demand the airlines have not been able to provide them until this past week. Note: Alcohol wipes are still not being delivered.

Because of the demand people are making their own masks.

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One local woman has been making masks in her living room in exchange for a donation to the Humane Society. She heard our need and provided us a couple dozen masks. Thanks Ila.

A friend of mine posted the reality of this pandemic and how it can decimate families.

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This is real folks.

Please be smart. Be careful. Be safe.

Wiped Out?

Have you had any luck finding antiseptic wipes? It seems that nobody is right now.

I need to go back to work to apologize for criticizing them for not providing cleaning solutions for their front-line workers. Their recommendation has been to use hand sanitizer with a paper towel.

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The sad reality is that paper towels are scarce too so some workers are resorting to wiping down their work stations using printer paper. Really?

Hand sanitizers have become so valuable that we are being directed to lock them up before walking away from our posts.

 

The Coronavirus is winning the war on yet another front.

Every grocery store I have gone to has been out of stock. The store clerks tell me that shoppers are at the door every morning when they open up. These people then proceed to clear out their stock of toilet paper, paper towels, Kleenex and antiseptic wipes.

All of the pharmacies including Walgreen’s and CVS cannot keep them in stock either.

 

There are a lot of posts when you search the Internet for “antiseptic wipes,” including a number of advertisements. The problem is availability.

The top AD on Amazon’s website is a 60-pack for $8.80. It appears to be “In Stock,” but the only shipping option is Standard and the estimated delivery is May 6 through the 28th. I could be contaminated by then.

951Amazon does offer a 20-pack of antiseptic hand wipes for $2.43. Great price. The problem is they will not be in stock until May 26. That’s six weeks from now. I could be dead by then.

On the same 60-pack on Amazon the seller is noted as Suxman-US. I was unable to locate their website. All of the findings when searching this company point to Amazon. Is this what a hamster’s life feels like?

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Hey look! I just found all the toilet paper. The Facebook Marketplace is loaded.

Antiseptic wipes? Nothing within 40 miles and no one is shipping.

Plenty of first aid kits. Do I want to pay $34 for a few band aids, an ace bandage and the possible dried up bacterial wipe?

Did you know that some people are making their own wipes. They are with lotion, rubbing alcohol and heavy duty paper towels. Genius. So where are they finding the paper towels?

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I keep hearing my momma’s voice saying, “Wash your damn hands!”

You know, sometimes you have to just laugh at the situation.

Final thought. Please consider sharing this article with suggestions where you have been successful finding antiseptic wipes. Or put your suggestions in the Comments below. Thanks.

Now I need to go apologize to my boss. Stay safe.

 

 

 

COVID19 at 30K Feet

I have been working for Piedmont Airlines in Charlotte, NC for almost three years now. Starting on the Ramp throwing bags and working in Utilities cleaning planes, I moved inside over a year ago boarding passengers as a Gate Agent.

I have always taken pride in my work, but not until the outbreak of the Coronavirus have I had as deep an appreciation for my coworkers as I do today.

There is a lot of talk about health workers being on the front lines of this battle and a lot of attention given to grocery store and supply chain employees that are putting themselves in harm’s way while doing their jobs. I agree that all of these people are heroes. They are running into the fire similar to the way that Firefighters and Law Enforcement did during 9-11 in 2001.

I write this today to highlight the completely overlooked heroes working in the Aviation industry. We need to especially recognize all of the people working in airports all over the world.

With the Airlines being classified as an “Essential Business” it appears that flights are not going to stop.

Air Traffic Is Down

The CDC updated their Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice this past week to include a Level 3 Warning to avoid non-essential travel. This is a good thing.

I work at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) which is the 12th busiest airports in the United States based on passengers boarding on a daily basis. CLT has averaged more than 20K passengers a day since 2012. The past week has averaged less than 2,000 passengers.

Our airport looks and feels like a ghost town. This is also being experienced in airports all over the Country and around the world.

I have seen flights go out with less than 10 people on board smaller aircraft that accommodate from 50 to 75 passengers. Mainline flights have much larger planes and their booking aren’t any better. Some have flown with one passenger and others with only the crew. One Pilot shared with me this week that he worked a flight to Boston, MA that was empty. That flight then went on to Hartford, CT empty.

Most of the passengers on these flights seem to be crew members being moved into position to work return flights or to work flights going to other stations. Some of these flights are then canceled leaving crews stranded. One crew last week was sent to Nashville, TN and the shuttle service was not running so they had to pay for an Uber service to get to their hotel. Their returned flight was canceled the next morning. They had to scramble to find a flight home later in the day.

On Regional flights, the crews are made up of two pilots (a Captain and a First Officer) and one or two Flight Attendants.

The pilots are working on the flight deck with a door that isolates them from the passengers. They are not completely safe since they are seated well within the recommended six feet from each other for proper social distancing.

The Flight Attendants are quite a different story. They are working directly with the passengers providing them assistance throughout the flight.

One Bag’s Journey

There is a very large population of workers at every airport in the world. It requires everyone from cleaners to caterers to bag runners to ramp personnel to Gate Agents before the first passenger gets on board. All of these personnel can come into contact with the Coronavirus. Some of these workers are more likely to be infected than others.

For example; if an infected passenger comes to any airport with a bag to be checked, that bag’s handle and cover can be infected. That bag can come in contact with the Porter at curbside service or a Ticket Agent at the counter when the passenger checks in.

That bag once checked in goes to the bag room where bag runners sort the bags and another runner runs it to the proper flight. This one bag may come in contact with three or more bag runners.

Once at the plane the bag is loaded into the cargo bin by Ramp Agents. One of these Agents puts the bag on a belt loader while the other Agent is in the bin stacking the bag with other bags.

So in that short journey this one contaminated bag has potentially infected five people (1 Porter or Ticket Agent, 2 Bag Runners, and 2 Ramp Agents)

That bag is now stacked with a number of other bags, flown to its destination and then handled by another half a dozen workers to get the bag to its next flight or to baggage claim. That one bag has now potentially infected nearly a dozen people. This does not take into account the virus transferring from one bag to another bag.

Passenger’s Journey

Quite a few passengers bring carry-on bags that are screened by TSA agents in Security Check Points. Sometimes they have to open bags for inspection which exposes them through contact with zippers and clothes and other personal items. These TSA Agents are heroes too.

That same passenger can contaminate a number of personnel by exchanging money with Porters and restaurant workers before getting to their gate. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. (Q&A on coronavirus COVID19)

That same passenger then has their Boarding Pass either on their phone or a paper version. As a Gate Agent we ask passengers to scan their boarding pass themselves, but with most people flying once a year (or for the first time) they are hesitant and cannot comprehend how to do it.

With the time limitations we have to board passengers it requires we keep them moving. We may have to scan the pass for them meaning we come in contact with their phone or paper tickets. You’d be amazed how many times I have seen people in line holding their boarding pass in their mouth while trying to get their personal belongings together. Talking about cell phones and personal hygiene is another story for another day.

Why are people flying?

So even with warnings and the death toll continuing to rise, why are people flying? There are legitimate reasons why people are flying and legitimate reasons why the airlines are considered essential.

For one, I have met a number of people this past week traveling to take care of family members.

One man was heading to Myrtle Beach, SC from Greensboro, NC to help his 95 year old father. His father earlier in the day found out that one of his home nurses quit because fear of the virus overcame her.

Another gentleman was going to take care of his 98 year old parents whose nurse was just diagnosed positive for COVID19.

In both of these cases these men could probably have driven, but with airfares way down it made more sense for them to not spend five or six hours in a car when they could be by their parents’ side within an hour or two.

On the flip side of this there have been a number of passengers going from their homes in one State to another State. How responsible this is depends on who you talk to. One gentleman shared with me, “At $77 each way I can go see my grand kids more often.”

Federal Stimulus

In defense of the airlines, a part of the $50 billion stimulus deal requires airlines to continue flying to cities they had scheduled before March 1st, according to USA Today. This is why we are seeing empty flights every single day.

As a way to recover some of the loss on these empty flights some Airlines are offering very low rates.  Spirit Airlines is offering $45 each way on almost all of their flights starting May 1st through June 10th.

Right now you can book a flight from Charlotte, NC to Denver, CO for $47 round trip on United and American Airlines. Or you can book a round trip fare to Miami, FL for $55. Yet the question begs to be asked, “At what point should the airlines be held responsible for exposure to passengers and employees?”

Are Airline employees being protected?

Yes, if you look at jobs being protected. There are Voluntary Leave packages and Early Retirements being offered. The Voluntary Leave packages are only extending a fraction of the current hours being worked, but the Federal Stimulus is helping the airlines assure jobs are not going away.

No, if you look at protective gear. A large part of that is due to lack of supplies. Masks are virtually impossible to locate. American Airlines is telling their front line employees that we are welcomed to wear masks and gloves, but we need to purchase them ourselves. They are providing hand sanitizer and wipes at the gates, but Flight Attendants are being provided iodine swabs in place of alcohol wipes.

As a sidebar, it amazes me that we have to lock up the limited supply of hand sanitizer we have because passengers are stealing them. I saw one coworker filling her small bottle from the wall dispenser in a break room. It is sad that people are just looking out for themselves. A large part of that is fear and people will do what they feel they have to do to survive.

On another note, Crew members are now finding themselves in hotels overnight without food. Restaurants are not open. Grub Hub and Uber Eats are not delivering by the time they get settled into their rooms. And drive-through establishments do not allow them to walk up to the drive up window. Most crews prepare their own food, but when traveling four to five days every week those meals don’t always last for more than a couple of days.

If You Have To Fly

If you do not have an essential reason to fly, please do not put yourself or anyone else in danger of contracting this deadly virus. The reality is that there are airport employees now being tested positive for COVID19.

According to CNN, Flight Attendant Paul Frishkorn in Philadelphia died earlier this week after testing positive and Flight Attendant James Rhoades is fighting for his life in North Carolina. I know of three coworkers in Charlotte that have tested positive. Thank God they are recovering.

If you have to fly to take care of family members or for any other legitimate reason, please be careful to not put yourself in a vulnerable position. This includes not huddling in groups while boarding and give everyone adequate space. Wash your hands and face regularly.

Please consider extending an encouraging word to airport employees for putting their health and their families’ lives in danger. These front line workers are heroes.

When boarding please be prepared to scan your own boarding pass which means you will want to have all of your belongings put away in your one carry on and one personal item.

Once on board think about sharing one of your alcohol wipes and maybe an extra mask with each Flight Attendant and thank them for their courage to be on the front lines insuring you get to where you are going.

SAFE travels everyone and please remember, the more you can wash your hands, the better you can protect yourself and others.

“Stay At Home”

This is a crazy time with the majority of States and County governments implementing “Stay At Home” orders. This makes sense to me since the goal is to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus COVID19 strand that has killed more than 101 thousand people to-date with another 50 thousand in critical condition worldwide. (https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/)

It is clear that this virus doesn’t play and we are just rolling the dice if we think we won’t get it. We all need to practice the CDC guidelines to help save lives.

 

How Do We Know That God Has Got Us?

Chris BradfordToday we all said goodbye to an awesome man, Chris Bradford.

He was a loving husband, caring and supportive son, and a pioneer among men advocating for victims of intimate partner violence.

I met Chris in July of 2008 when he showed up at a Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau training I was conducting.  He was hungry to learn and had an overflowing passion to support survivors and victims of emotional, verbal and physical abuse.

Chris was one of only a handful of men that showed up and participated whole heartedly in an effort to engage other men in turning the tide of violence against women and girls.

He had courage and determination to make a difference. And he did.  He leaves a legacy and he clearly touched many lives in his short time with us.

The primary challenge for me today is realizing that even being a champion for others, as Chris was, we also have our own struggles. We can advocate and participate in rallies and gain accreditation, but we are alone with our own internal battles to fight.

Chris, at 42, was apparently so consumed in his own fight that he decided he couldn’t win. He forgot for a moment how awesome he was. It is with a heavy heart to say… Chris took his own life. How? We don’t know. It isn’t important.

What is important is we all (especially men) need to learn how to ask for help.

I keep asking myself how I missed the signs that Chris was struggling. We talked at length about how to help men change their behavior, but we never asked each other how we were doing ourselves.

Chris knew how much I appreciated his help, his support and his courage, but I never told him I loved him. And I do love Chris. He is my brother in Christ and I look forward to seeing him again in heaven.

Yes. Chris was a Believer. But like all of us (believer or not) we can become isolated  which is exactly what the enemy wants. His goal is to steal, kill and destroy us.  For me, this is even more reason why we need each other.

Chris didn’t ask for help from anyone that we know of.  Maybe he struggled like every one of us thinking, “I’m a man. I don’t need help.” Maybe he felt he had his life under control and the enemy caught him at a weak moment.

The bottom line is this. We need to be willing to ask for help and we have to be willing to really dig in to get to know our brothers (and sisters).

Every man (and women) has a story.  We live together. We work together. We have church and Bible study together. But do we really know what each other is dealing with when we are left alone?

Whether we are believers in a risen Savior or not, many of us have experienced the enemy’s tactics; making us feel weak, insignificant and alone. This is why it is so important to realize that we are here to help each other.

In the beginning, God created man so He (our Creator) could be in relationship with us. He loves us completely.  He did not design us to be alone, but to love and support one another.

So today I say to each and every one of my family members, my friends, and especially my wife (who I do not tell enough), I love you.

We all need the reminder that we are loved.  Especially on a day like today.

I love how Chris’ wife Dana shared how God showed her His love in the following post a few days after he died.

Yesterday after seeing Chris for the last time, I returned home just before a big thunderstorm. Within 5 minutes of me entering our home, the rain began. My home was full of guests bringing me and my family love and support. I stepped outside on our deck and let God cry on me. I lifted my face and arms to heaven and let Him wash over me. It’s not often that it downpours (this) heavily with rain and thunder and the sun shining (all) at the same time. God and I wept together and I was the most drenched by His tears. (As I stepped back indoors) I was told my face looked different and that was because I was kissed by God and covered in His tears. I stepped back into the rain (for more).

God does love us so much and He does cry with us now as we say goodbye to Chris.

I choose to believe that our God is so awesome that He is now holding Chris. Reminding Chris how awesome he is in God’s eyes.

Going forward let us remember Chris for his pioneer spirit and his awesome heart for others. Chris always put our needs before his own.

Let us also keep Dana and Chris’ family in our daily prayers and consider helping Dana pay for today’s awesome service with a donation to the Fundraiser for Dana Bradford.

How do we know that God has got us? He shows us by revealing His love for each and every one of us… through… each and every one of us.

Chris said it perfectly when he said goodbye. “Be awesome to each other.”

Be awesome to each other

Domestic Violence is a problem year round

Every year we celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. This year was no different as we participated in more than 40 events.

P1070034From a joint City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County Proclamation to marches on The Square in response to this year’s sixth and seventh local domestic violence related homicides, we rallied the citizens of this county to help raise the banner and extend a life line to potential victims in our neighborhoods.

Some of the events were strictly awareness efforts. Some were benefits with proceeds going toward helping provide services for the more than 1000 clients we serve every year through our Adult, Children and Batterer Services.

From RAD Charlotte rocking against domestic violence to candlelight vigils we know at least 5,623 citizens of Mecklenburg County were engaged in these efforts. Thanks to all of the advocates and countless volunteers for helping us spread the word.

Wells Fargo Lights CLTWith other efforts like the Wells Fargo Duke Energy Building being lit up in purple to the Diversity Council’s discussion on The Impact of Cultural Differences on Domestic Violence in Mecklenburg County to Power98’s Power Talk radio and television specials, we cannot gauge how many were actually reached.

On October 6th, WSOC-TV aired a one-hour special entitled Stand Up To Domestic Violence. With testimonies from abuse victims to perpetrators to bystanders interceding there were a lot of educational and powerful moments.

Community Support Services partnered with WSOC-TV in this effort by providing 7 staff and 10 volunteers from the Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau to answer phone calls from viewers in an effort to connect them with local services. The 110 calls that came in from viewers in 22 counties ranged widely. One gentlemen with a warrant was convinced to surrender. Another women who has endured verbal abuse for more than thirty years was referred to Adult Services for safety planning.

Our challenge now, as November moves swiftly toward December and we get lost in the Holidays, is that we do not forget about the countless number of male and female victims that are living as prisoners in their own homes. All at the hands of their abuser.

As the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team reminded us again this month, domestic violence is a year round problem.

Join us as we work toward diminishing this problem and clearly communicating to all of our neighbors and constituents that Mecklenburg County has zero tolerance for domestic violence.

For more information on how you can help raise the banner against domestic violence, contact the Domestic Violence Speakers Bureau at 704-432-1568 or go to http://DVSB.CharMeck.org.

Inspiration From A Fifth Grader

When working with survivors of domestic violence there seems to be a hero around every corner, but we don’t expect them to be an 11 year old.

Patricia & Kya Gregory

Patricia & Kya Gregory

Kya Gregory is a child observer whose compassion to help victims of domestic violence began as she saw it first hand when her mother was emotionally and physically abused by her father.

Kya wanted to help somehow, but she didn’t know where to start. Her mom called the CSS Women’s Commission for ideas and when I shared our cell phone program Patricia said “Kya can do that.”

Kya spoke with her Pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and with his blessing she set out to collect 150 old-used cell phones. Her efforts included making wooden boxes with statistics and stories that were put on display in the foyer of the church.

Click on image to see Family Focus feature

Click on image to see Family Focus feature

The congregation was so moved that her story became a Family Focus feature on WSOC-TV. (click on the image or this link http://bit.ly/1KpssBe to see that story).

Kya delivered 207 old-used cell phones to the Women’s Commission office yesterday. Now she is looking for another way to help. Her next outreach effort? Collecting umbrellas for the homeless.

If this one little girl can find a way to extend a lifeline to victims what can you do?
For more information on the cell phone collection program check out the Domestic Violence & Violence Prevention page at http://CSS.CharMeck.org or call Mike Sexton at 704-432-1568.

DV Fatality Review Team presents their fourth report

The Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Fatality Prevention and Protection Review Team (DVFRT) presented their fourth annual report entitled “Until Death Do Us Part” to the Board of County Commissioners in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte, NC) on Tuesday night.

DVFRT report at BOCC 100714District Court Judge Ron Chapman, who is the current Vice-Chair with the help of Helen Lipman, DVFRT Liaison presented the report at the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting in the Chamber of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

North Carolina legislation created the DVFRT on June 1, 2009 as a pilot project in Mecklenburg County. The legislation provides the needed legal protection to make it easier for agencies to share case information in a full review. The DVFRT has reviewed 16 dv-related homicide cases since that time.

Community Support Services, a Mecklenburg County department that includes the Women’s Commission, is the lead agency for the effort.

The DVFRT report has four themes including; access to firearms, behavioral health issues, exposure of children and youth to domestic violence, and systems integration.

The report includes a number of recommendations including expanded trainings for police and probation officers, as well as judges, in regards to access to firearms. In 10 of the 16 cases reviewed a firearm was the killers’ weapon of choice. In 7 of those 10 cases the firearms were obtained illegally.

The DVFRT, in concert with the DV Community Leadership Team, also recommends that a pilot multi-disciplinary team be developed to actively monitor selected repeat violent DV offenders to reduce repeat incidents. Similar initiatives have shown positive results in other North Carolina communities, including the City of High Point.

DVFRT report at BOCC 100714 HelenA number of accomplishments are also noted such as the Supervised Visitation & Safe Exchange Center opening later this year, which was a priority identified by the DV Community Leadership Team for 2014-16. This facility and program will provide a safe environment for victims and children when child custody comes into play in abusive relationships.

The entire DVFRT 2014 Report is now available online.

For more information on the effects of domestic violence in our community, call the Mecklenburg County Community Support Services Women’s Commission at 704-336-3210 or Safe Alliance’s 24-hour DV Hotline at (704) 332-2513.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship outside of Mecklenburg County, please call the National DV Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). They will help you get connected with a shelter, programs and services in your community.

Okay Roger… Now what?

Commissioner GoodellListening to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference multiple times now, I find myself still looking for some things to solidly get behind. From my perspective there are a couple of great moves. There are other missed opportunities.

It is great that the NFL has connected with the National Hotline (www.thehotline.org) and it appears the league is committed to helping them with staffing and resources. This is in response to the fact that the hotline missed a huge number of calls by victims due to an 84% increase of calls last week. This is a great initiative for victims. I can get behind that.

I’m glad to hear local domestic violence resources were provided to teams. This is also a good start in the awareness and education process needed for team owners, team personnel and players.

Other than these two new initiatives, everything else were things we already knew.

goodell riceThere were a lot of apologies for how the Ray Rice situation was handled, the lack of a heavy enough penalty for Rice’s actions, and Goodell admitting the mistakes began with him. I truly appreciate his leadership and the fact that he is owning the responsibility for fumbling this case.

In the NFL’s defense, I think this issue caught them by surprize. One of the best things to come out of this mishap is we are now participating in a nationwide conversation. My guess is there are lessons that corporate America can learn from how the Commissioner and team owners are trying to get their heads around this. There is a very good chance that alot of businesses, professional teams and college atheletics didn’t have this issue on their radar before now.

Goodell did say they are going to rewrite the Personal Conduct Policy and cited a new committee being formed to help with this policy. His goal is to have a new policy in place by the Super Bowl (02/01/15).

More than once he stated he invited former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to lead an “independent” investigation on how the league handled the Rice case. And that is good. More than a few times he talked about “getting our house in order.” That is important too.

What I was hoping he would say is, “Any player arrested for domestic violence would immediately be suspended until an investigation is completed,” but he didn’t. Instead he dodged the questioning about consistency of charges like a high stakes lawyer.

Right now the NFL is still floundering with a consistent approach to players caught in a criminal incident. Regardless of their guilt or innocence.

Ray Rice has been suspended by the league and terminated by the Baltimore Ravens.

Carolina Panther’s Greg Hardy is on the “Exempt List.”

jonathan dwyerArizona Cardinal Jonathan Dwyer has been put on the non-football injury list, and San Francisco’s Ray McDonald is still playing meaning three out of four of these cases the player is still getting paid.

Granted, we do need to respect the legal process. Ray McDonald has not been charged yet. He was arrested last month and accused of assaulting his pregnant fiancée. A number of former players including Hall of Famer Jerry Rice think the 49ers should remove McDonald from the field.

Another DV case in the NFL?

quincy enunwaAnd what about New York Jets’ Quincy Enunwa? (NFL investigating case, ESPN) Mr. Enunwa was arrested on September 4th for allegedly pulling a woman off a bed at a hotel near the Jets training facility, injuring her head and finger. Why have we not heard anything about his case Mr. Commissioner? Will the new NFL Domestic Violence Policy that was immediately implemented on August 28, 2014 apply in this case once he is charged?

It begs the question, is the NFL simply turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of its players? (NFL Player Arrests, USA Today). Could Commissioner Goodell be trying to protect his bosses’ investments?

There is a ton of great work being done by current and former NFL players in the communities where they live. Men that understand their role as a positive role model. Men that know what they do instills a lasting impression on children. Especially young boys.

By not addressing these cases of potential abuse the NFL is sending the message to these youngsters that it is okay to own an arsenal of firearms. It’s okay to minimize women. It’s okay to view women as sex objects. Did you know, Mr. Commissioner, this lack of action of addressing these issues has proven to eventually lead to abuse (Miss Representation Project)

How about this for a strong message to victims and women in general?

janay knocked outWhat I did not heard during the press conference or at any point before now is a conversation on what the NFL is doing for Jayna Rice, Nicole Holder or any of the other victims abused at the hands of current NFL players facing charges of domestic violence or child abuse.

There was no apology. No words of concern to their well-being. No initiative toward assuring victims’ safety, which could easily apply to players being abuse by their intimate partner too.

We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL has done more awareness of this issue than possibly any corporation in history. The players will pink and purple ribbonbe wearing pink accessories to their uniforms all month and a pink ribbon will adorn the 50 yard line in most (if not all) NFL stadiums throughout the month. This is fantastic knowing that one in eight women have personal experience with breast cancer.

Did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that one in four women have experienced abuse in a relationship? What message can Commissioner Goodell send in support of women in general, which happens to be 44% of their fan base? (NFL fan base, USA Today)

Here is one tangible way the NFL can show they care. Ask every NFL owner to designate one home game within the month of October where $1 per ticket (or seat) would go to their local domestic violence shelter. Then the league could match those funds to go to the each State’s Domestic Violence Coalition. (This of course, would be over and above what the league has committed to the National Hotline.) This type of demonstration puts their money where their mouth is. All the while making a serious difference in the lives of abused women and possibly saving a life or two or more.

This just may help the PR nightmare they now are facing as well, with a move toward a commitment to victim’s safety which we all can solidly get behind.

Are you looking for ways you can help raise the banner against domestic violence during DV Awareness Month? Check out Mecklenburg County’s DV Calendar of Events or Domestic Violence Awareness Month for some ideas or how you can help.

What Is Our Best Response to Ray Rice?

goodell riceThere are a lot or responses to the Ray Rice travesty.

I wonder if divorcing the NFL is the answer.

I wonder if throwing Commissioner Goodell under the bleachers is a real solution.

I wonder if a ban of the NFL really helps.

Our better response may be to educate ourselves on this issue. Domestic violence is a rampant problem in at least one of every four relationships based on reporting to the National DV Hotline. Right here in Charlotte, NC we had more than 9,300 criminal incidents of domestic violence last year. Break that down, that is nearly 25 cases per day where someone communicated a threat to the one they love or they assaulted them to the point of physical harm or somewhere in between.

The NFL may not have responded as quickly as we all would have liked (especially now that we know what we know), but where Ray_Rice_052314_PRwere the whistleblowers two months ago when Ray Rice held a seven minute press conference apologizing to everyone but his soon to be wife? (05/23/14 > http://youtu.be/WJBkG_kyqxI). Mr. Rice spoke for more than 6:30 of that time giving his fiancé, Jayna a mere 30 seconds to share.

Our challenge with intimate partner violence is a lack of accountability. Victims are re-victimized every day in our court system, in our workplaces, and yes… in the media.

I did a segment on ESPN Radio yesterday I was asked, “Why did Jayna defend him and call out the media?” Well, it’s pretty simple. She is probably scared for her life and feels she had no other choice in order to survive.

We all need to look at this issue a bit differently. Watch the May 23rd press conference again and see if you can count how many times Jayna had the confidence to look up let alone hold eye contact with the camera. It appeared to me that she was afraid to even look at the man “she loves.” Commissioner Goodell made the same mistake that Pastors and professional Counselors make every day in every city in the country. Couples counseling in these volatile relationships does not work. The risk in this practice is the victim (male or female) has to go home with their abuser. It doesn’t matter if they said anything in the session or not. A simple roll of the eyes or a sigh to something the perpetrator said is enough to get the victim a beat down later.

Instead of us all banning the league and pointing the finger finding fault elsewhere, we may be better suited to gain some understanding of what we are dealing with.

first offense NFLPersonally, I applaud Commissioner Goodell and the NFL for their swift and firm response once they saw firsthand what took place in the elevator. Their stance sends a loud and clear message to all of professional sports that players abusing their wives and girlfriends will not be tolerated. Let’s wait and see what happens to Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers) and Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers) when their cases are heard before a jury of their peers. If those cases prove to be as heinous and nothing happens then let’s call out the league.

I wonder if our anger toward this situation is not better suited toward our law makers for not instilling firmer penalties. Did you know that in North Carolina it is a heavier penalty for dragging your dog down the street? Animal cruelty is a felony. Dragging your girlfriend behind your truck is a misdemeanor. Maybe we should recruit every NFL fan to call their Legislator to pass the Violence Against Women’s Act long before it’s status is in jeopardy.

For me, the finger in this situation needs to be unanimously pointed firmly at Ray Rice. Not his wife. Not the NFL. At Ray Rice!

Ray Rice is lucky he is not facing a murder rap. We see countless numbers of domestic violence related homicides every year where the victim died from blunt force trauma. Cases when the killer didn’t mean to hurt her, but their choice to lay hands on her put leaving is dangerousher head through a wall. A seemingly harmless push can be enough for a victim to lose their balance and slam their head on an island in the kitchen.

Jayna Rice is lucky to be alive and clearly is doing everything she can to survive.

Our rage toward this issue needs to address how we might potentially save her life.

If you need help or know someone in an abusive relationship call the National Hotline at 800-779-SAFE (7233). Ask them about a safety plan.

If you want a better understanding of what domestic violence is go to http://CSS.CharMeck.org and click on the Women’s Commission.

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