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July 16 - The ELLA Foundation, Hospice Savannah to Launch Forgotten Victims Program to Help Process Crime-Related Grief

Savannah Business Journal Staff Report

July 16, 2019 - The ELLA Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering support, education and advocacy to individuals and families affected by violence, and Hospice Savannah will launch the Forgotten Victims Support Group, a new 8-week program focusing on grief education and effective ways to process crime-related grief. This program, which is free open to the public, is limited to 15 participants. 

A joint project of The ELLA Foundation and Hospice Savannah’s Full Circle Grief and Loss Center, the Forgotten Victims Support Group will meet every Thursday at 6 p.m., beginning on August 22, at the Demere Center for Living, located at 6000 Business Center Drive in Savannah, Ga. 

Full Circle Grief and Loss Manager Betsy Kammerud, LCSW, CCTP will lead the group with Charity Lee, The ELLA Foundation’s founder and executive director. Lee is a certified Crisis Interventionist with over 2,000 hours of volunteer experience, a certified Anger Management Specialist, a certified Theft Addiction Specialist, a certified Seeking Safety facilitator and developer of numerous evidence-based programs for individuals and families affected by violence.

Lee has first-hand experience with crime-related grief. In 2007, her 13-year-old son, Paris, murdered her four-year-old daughter, Ella, in Abilene, Texas. In one day, Lee lost both of her children -- one to violence and another to a 40-year prison sentence. She formed The ELLA Foundation in an effort to help those affected by acts of violence, including victims, offenders and their families.

“Through personal experience, I’ve learned that when a loved one commits a crime, especially a crime against another person, it takes a huge psychological toll on their family members,” Lee says. “If family members accept the fact their loved one is guilty of the crime they are convicted of, they grieve the loss of the person they thought they know, the loss of the hopes and dreams they had for their loved one’s future as well as the physical loss of their loved one to incarceration.”

The Forgotten Victims Support Group is intended for parents, relatives, friends or anyone who has suffered a traumatic loss or been made to feel like an outcast due to their relationship with someone who has been convicted of a crime.

“Though it is not talked about as often as the grief associated with natural or accidental deaths, crime-induced grief is just as real and equally painful,” Kammerud explains. “The Forgotten Victims Support Group will address a hidden need in our community and create a safe space to have long overdue conversations about the relationship between violence, crime and grief.” 

The group will also address the blame society inflicts on the family members of convicted criminals as well as the stigma they gain by association, which can lead to shunning, vilification and self-blame. 

Those interested in participating in the free program, which runs from August 22 to October 10, can contact The ELLA Foundation at 912.655.8711 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve a space. Sponsorship opportunities are also available.

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