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THIS WEEK'S FEATURED STORIES

Safe families: Justice center hires full-time director

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Vicki Bourus, former director of the S.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, has been named the first full-time, paid executive director of the Georgetown County Family Justice Center.

She’ll begin her new role on Feb. 23, replacing Joan Meacham, who served as interim director on a volunteer basis. Meacham will continue to be involved with the center as a volunteer.

Bourus, 64, retired to Georgetown County with her husband, Howard Waddell, just last year and signed on as a center advisory board member. However, she has been involved with the center in other capacities since the idea was introduced.

She was working with the coalition about five years ago when she got a call from Carol Winans of Georgetown, one of those who led the effort to make the center a reality.

Winans told Bourus about the plans for the center and asked her to come down and offer some input.

“I was thrilled because the Family Justice Center is a national, cutting edge model,” Bourus said. “It’s a very new and effective way of handling domestic violence. I was so happy to hear something like this was happening in South Carolina.”

She met with a small task force and from that point on has had regular contact with the center.

Then when she retired, she and her husband built a house on the Black River. They had vacationed for years at Pawleys Island and Litchfield and said the county was a natural fit. But she didn’t plan on taking another job.

Yet when Meacham approached her, she realized she wanted to play a bigger part in the center.

“I wouldn’t have assumed this role if I hadn’t already loved this center, this part of the world, the people in this community and this work,” she said.

Bourus has long been devoted to aiding victims of domestic violence and working to end the intergenerational pattern of domestic violence.

Meacham, the board and the staff at the center have done an excellent job of “laying a wonderful foundation” already, she said.

“What I want to do is build on that – to continue to seek resources to stabilize the center with funding sources and in-kind donations, build community awareness and help people understand how devastating and important this issue is,” Bourus said.

“We need to encourage healthy families because from domestic violence emerges almost every major social problem we deal with, whether it’s teen pregnancy, runaways or alcohol and drug addition. The list just goes on and on, and we as a state, pay the price in not attending to these families early and often.”

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