HOUSTON – Families to Freedom was created to help women who cannot get into a shelter, because it may be over capacity. The drivers help them find a safe place to go even if its outside of Houston. Organizers said without drivers, there’s many domestic violence victims whom are unable to get away from their abusers.
Deanna Parmenter said she survived domestic violence 40 years ago.
“I know what it feels like, I know how scared you can feel and just how helpless,” said Parmenter.
Now, she is driving to help a woman and her child in the same position she once was in.
“Sometimes it tears me up when I see the situation but for the most part, I feel really good about It that I’m able to help somebody in a really tough spot get to a better place,” said Parmenter.
Parmenter is a volunteer with Families to Freedom. The nonprofit said it is in desperate need of more drivers to help take domestic violence victims and families to a safe place.
“We’ve actually done 269 trips to domestic violence shelters and a handful leaving the state just this year alone. This year to date, we’ve answered 596 new and different victims and survivors have called our Houston hotline asking for help,” said Families To Freedom Founder Sarah Nejdl.
A strained economy and more people knowing about the service has contributed to the increased demand, according to Nejdl.
“In addition to that, we’ve got mom’s with kids who need to get to a safe place before the school year begins so we do see an influx of travel prior to the school session starting up. with volunteer drivers, we make it possible for victims to get far away and become safe which reduces fatalities, reduces victimization, reduces a whole myriad of family violence crime,” said Nejdl.
The woman Parmenter picked up said she is grateful for the ride, because she did not have family or friends to call.
“If I can help them along their journey a little bit, that makes it all worth while,” said Parmenter.
Those wanting to become a volunteer driver can find that information here.
Do you know someone in need of help? KPRC 2 released the following features in “Breaking Free.”
Help is also available immediately if you need it through the following numbers: