By Elena Saviolakis, DOP
WASHINGTON, DC – The Daughters of Penelope (DOP), a leading international service organization comprised of women of Hellenic heritage and Philhellenes, kicked off the New Year by launching a national project series which will include weekly webinars on each of their national projects. The first webinar of the series was on Penelope House on Thursday, January 14, with Penelope House Executive Director Tonie Ann Coumanis Torrans.
Penelope House, the first shelter for battered women and children in Alabama, was founded under the direction of the Daughters of Penelope Chapter in 1978. Penelope House was one of the first such shelters in the nation and has served as a model for many shelters in the U.S. Penelope House helps victims of domestic violence to gain social and economic independence through shelter, counseling, advocacy and referral to community resources and agencies.
“I am very proud of the Penelope House board and staff for being so flexible, compassionate, and determined to navigate through a pandemic, two hurricanes, and so much uncertainty yet still carry out our mission in providing emergency shelter and many services to victims of domestic violence and their children,” said Penelope House Executive Director Torrans.
Guests panelists in addition to Penelope House Executive Director Tonie Ann Coumanis Torrans included Daughters of Penelope Grand President Celia Kachmarski, Past Penelope House Executive Director and Founder Kathryn Coumanis, Shelter Supervisor Melanie Bankhead, Transitional Living Coordinator Jenny Pappas, and Grant Writer Deirdre Williams. Moderators of the webinar included Daughters of Penelope Grand Secretary Georgette Boulegeris, Daughters of Penelope Grand Governor Kathy Matrakas, and Daughters of Penelope Executive Director Elena Saviolakis.
“I feel blessed that God gave me the privilege to be a small part of this important movement. When I first had the idea of starting a shelter for battered women (as known in 1978) I had no consideration of how to finance or the logistics of how to actually set up a shelter program, only that this was something that had to be done. Also I knew I had my Daughters of Penelope Sisters behind me and they were relentless. We knew we had a long road to hoe because of social prejudice at the time particularly regarding the rights of women. We worked hard, met every challenge head on and we were relentless! I also have a mantra that has guided me since I was a teenager – I will pass through this world but once, any kindness I can show, or any good that I can do, let me do it now… for I shall not pass this way again,” said Past Penelope House Executive Director and Founder Kathryn Coumanis.
Before closing the webinar, Grand President Kachmarski stated, “our membership is proud to support Penelope House as a national project and I commend Kathryn, Tonie Ann, and the staff at Penelope House for all the hard work they have done and continue to do to help victims of domestic violence.”
The second webinar of the national project series will be Thursday, January 21, with Limbitless Solutions Branding & Design Leader Mrudula Peddinti. Limbitless Solutions is a non-profit organization devoted to bringing volunteers and technology to the kids who need it most. The organization uses additive manufacturing to advance personalized bionics and solutions for disabilities.