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Bite-sized grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup shooters, a nod to the comfort food of school days long since passed, and cooked up by Brunswick restaurant Tipsy McSway’s, was one of the featured selections at A Taste of Glynn in 2016.

Imagine being imprisoned in one’s own home. That’s often how domestic violence victims feel. They’re not free to text their friends, take a “girls’ weekend” or even go shopping without their partner knowing where they are every minute of every day. Abusers tend to isolate their victims and control their every move, making it virtually impossible for them to ask for help.

Because isolation is so often a component in domestic violence situations, the Glynn Community Crisis Center is beginning “Safe and Sound,” a new outreach program that will make intervention information available, as well as a safe phone in places like restaurants, grocery stores, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, hair salons, and other locations people frequent on a regular basis.

The Glynn Community Crisis Center, Amity House, was founded in 1983, and provides emergency shelter to victims of domestic or family violence and their children. The organization also operates a 24-hour a day, seven-days-a-week crisis hotline. In 2009, the agency’s services expanded with the addition of Hope House, which provides three transitional housing units. Hope House serves people who have completed their stay at Amity House, but need a little extra time to rebuild their lives. The crisis center also provides support to victims and survivors who are not in need of safe shelter. And, in 2015, GCCC added re-housing and relocation assistance for its sheltered and unsheltered clients.

In 2016, the agency introduced Safe Dates for middle- and high-school students. That program teaches students about boundaries, safety and the recognition of abuse in dating and interpersonal relationships. Through the training, young people can learn to recognize and understand types of abuse and how to remove themselves safely from certain situations. Topics, all age-appropriate, include defining caring relationships, defining dating abuse, why people abuse, how to help friends, overcoming gender stereotypes and how we feel, how we deal.

The Safe Dates program reached 727 students in Glynn and McIntosh counties in 2016, and follow-up tests indicated that 96 percent of those students increased their knowledge of healthy relationships versus abusive relationships.

Also in 2016, GCCC provided more than 2,300 safe bed nights and 5,358 meals to 188 victims and their children, and moved 28 survivors and their 42 children into safe and stable housing.

All of that work takes money, and it’s for that reason that from 5-8 p.m. April 2 the GCCC will once again present its signature event, the annual “A Taste of Glynn.” The oceanfront King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons Island provides the backdrop for the elegant soiree, now in its 17th year, that will feature 19 area restaurants all trying to outdo one another with their tasty treats and over-the-top tablescapes.

According to Kay Hampton, co-chair of A Taste of Glynn and a longtime GCCC board member, refers to the event as the area’s best-known seaside party with a serious purpose.

“In the company of friends and family, guests will enjoy sampling the best food from talented chefs and caterers, while at the same time supporting the critical services provided by GCCC for victims of domestic violence and their children,” she said, adding that restaurants will face off in five different categories, including Coastal Flair, International, Comfort Food, Desserts and Tablescapes. The sixth category, the People’s Choice Award, is the most coveted and is decided by attendees.

Chefs from 19 establishments will be participating. They include those from Bistro Eleven88, Blackwater Grill, College of Coastal Georgia Culinary Arts Program, Del Sur, Echo at the King and Prince, The Half Shell, Harris Teeter, Island Jerk, Jekyll Island Holiday Inn Resort, Public House at Sea Palms, Purple Sage Catering, Southeast Georgia Health System, Tavola, That’s Italian, The Farmer & The Larder, The Rooftop at Ocean Lodge, Thrive of Frederica, Tipsy McSway’s and Wee Pub Beach.

One of the participating chefs will be Connor Rankin, chef at The Half Shell in the St. Simons Pier Village. Rankin has been involved with A Taste of Glynn intermittently since 2008, when he worked at the former JMac’s. After some time away from the event, he returned three years ago.

In addition to a deep-seated concern for the victims of domestic violence, Rankin says the event fits the business model of The Half Shell.

“We don’t really do any advertising per se, but we try to support local charities and community events,” he said. “Also, the people who attend these events are people we want to reach.”

Rankin was mum on what he will serve at the event, but mentioned he is a former prize-winner at A Taste of Glynn.

“We received the best ‘Locally Inspired Dish’ for our shrimp ceviche two years ago,” he said.

The focus will be on the food, but guests will also enjoy live music throughout the venue, and compete for prizes in the silent auction.

The new Safe and Sound program, along with all of the agency’s programs, will benefit from A Taste of Glynn. Hampton said the nonprofit is constantly looking for ways to meet the needs of people in abusive situations.

“The new Safe and Sound program provides a confidential way for domestic violence victims to reach out to GCCC staff who can help them,” Hampton explained. “Participating businesses place a small Safe and Sound card by their cash register, in a restroom, on a door or other visible location.

“The card identifies the business as a program participant and provides the agency’s 24-hour emergency number. Staff at the business will be prepared to react, provide a secure telephone or call the police for assistance — all with no questions asked.”

Getting the word out in all areas of the community that help is available is one of the agency’s goals.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any background.

“Just recently, the Golden Isles has been rocked by the news of local domestic violence incidents,” Hampton said. “We hear about those cases and are shocked. The sad truth is that for every incident made public, there are hundreds more that remain private, with people suffering in quiet desperation. Our goal is to get victims to safety and help rebuild their lives and self-esteem.”

Dottie Bromley, executive director of GCCC, said she appreciates the way the community embraces A Taste of Glynn.

“This caring community support helps fund critical programs for victims of domestic violence and their children,” she said. “These programs provide the assistance and resources necessary to turn victims into survivors.”

Dottie Bromley, executive director of The Glynn Community Crisis Center, expressed her appreciation for the way the community embraces A Taste of Glynn. “This caring community support helps fund critical programs for victims of domestic violence and their children.

These programs provide the assistance and resources necessary to turn victims into survivors. It is because of this very support that we can look forward to a future in which our community has strong, safe and successful families free from the fear of domestic violence.”

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