Sunday, November 4, 2012
Charmagne Helton is a mother of two and a survivor. For years she was the victim of abuse from her former husband and spent seven weeks inside the old Gwinnett County Women’s Shelter with her children. During this time Helton was asked to cook for the 30 or so women and children at the shelter and even though nervous, she fried up some fish and made cornbread that was so delicious the people at the shelter raved about it for weeks. In February 2013, the new shelter is scheduled to open and will have Helton’s name over the door to the kitchen. Charmagne shares her story and works as a tireless advocate to educate others on the dangers of domestic violence. According to Meagan Fulmer, the President and CEO of the Partnership Against Domestic Violence, one in four women experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime. Fulmer also says that in 2010, 132 women, up from 123 in 2009, were killed in Georgia by their partner. On Sunday I had the pleasure to meet Charmagne and her two children Gabrielle and Jared. I photographed them for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as they made dinner together as a family at her parent’s home in Alpharetta. During the short time I spent with them, Charmagne told me her story as well. She told me about the uncertainty she felt during that first meal she cooked at the shelter and how the support of those women and children at the shelter started to give her her strength and confidence back. It was uplifting to hear her speak and I am thankful for the time I was allowed to share with her and her family.