Looking out at the serene vistas that characterize Shelter Island and contemplating the peace that residents and visitors find here, it’s easy to forget that, like every community, there’s a darker reality for some families where home is not a safe and restorative haven.
It’s in those homes where domestic abuse resides. Police Chief Jim Read confirms that his department’s statistics continue to show approximately 40 Islanders a year in need of help because they live in abusive homes. And that says nothing of the cases that don’t get reported, according to Barbara Olton of Hay Beach, a member of The Retreat’s Board of Directors.
The Retreat has helped hundreds of Shelter Island victims through the years and thousands of victims throughout the East End, Ms. Olton said.
Those sad statistics are what motivates Ms. Olton and a growing cadre of volunteers — they call themselves SoS for Support our Shelter — to make a difference by both by reaching out to those they believe would benefit from programs at The Retreat and helping to raise money to support those programs.
Women on the Island have contacted other women they know have been in abusive relationships. They have been “nurturing friends” in supporting those victims, Ms. Olton said.
“Those women who have reached out in a private way to help others are the real heroes,” Ms. Olton said.
The Retreat’s aim is to help break the cycle of family violence because children who grow up in abusive households often become abusers as adults.
But breaking that cycle takes money to provide counseling, job training, court advocacy services, temporary shelters for victims in need and even counseling services for abusers. They’re generally court-ordered to undergo such counseling, but in some cases, it can provide a new beginning for the entire family.
That’s why Ms. Olton has spent months planning the second annual Goat Hill Golf Outing at the Shelter Island Country Club on Saturday, September 27, with a rain date for Sunday, September 28.
Participants not only get a fun day of food, golf and prizes, but an opportunity to support The Retreat, Ms. Olton said.
“Last year’s event was wonderful with representation from all parts of the Island who came to play for a good cause,” she said. And again this year, Ms. Olton was able to enlist former Gardiner’s Bay Country Club golf pro Bob DeStefano to run the tournament.
Fund raising hasn’t always been easy for The Retreat on Shelter Island. Until the last couple of years, too many potential contributors considered it an East Hampton organization. But as they have come to understand the number of Islanders served by the Retreat, support has been growing.
That has come through word of mouth from a number of well-heeled supporters and from publicity centered on the golf outing.
Participants pay $125 or $500 a foursome to play. That includes a continental breakfast, gourmet lunch, use of a golf cart and, of course, golf. It’s a “Shambles” format where each member of a foursome tees off with the best ball marked and from that location, all four play their own balls, keeping individual scores.
The tournament is limited to 14 foursomes and everyone will play 18 holes, Ms. Olton said.
There will be prizes for winning players.
Don’t play golf? There’s plenty of opportunity to contribute to the effort for both businesses and individual contributors. For $50, you can buy a tee sign that will be posted along the course. You can buy raffle tickets in a 50-50 raffle where tickets are $10 each or three for $20.
SoS seeks contributions of prizes. Last year’s included items such as free golf lessons, meals at fine restaurants and gift baskets. They also welcome contributions with checks made out to The Retreat with SoS written on the memo line. Those should be sent to Barbara Olton , P.O. Box 794, Shelter Island Heights, New York 11965.
The Retreat is also one of 146 domestic violence service agencies nationwide to participate in the Allstate Foundation’s Community Partner program under way this month. Contributors can go on line and donate to The Retreat through the Purple Purse Challenge Crowdrise page at crowdwise.com to give funds to the organization through October 3.
While Ms. Olton is boosting the SoS contributions for The Retreat, she called the Purple Purse Challenge “really cool” in helping to provide financing to the organization.