- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

Ludy Green says, “I’m a doer, I’m not a talker.” But don’t get this fast-talking, visionary activist started on the topic of domestic violence and creating healthy families, or she’ll bend your ear. Mrs. Green saved a substantial amount of money throughout years of working in human resources management to realize her dream of establishing Second Chance Employment Services. As founder and full-time president of the successful self-help agency for victims of domestic violence, she does not earn a dime.

Second Chance Employment Services provides free training and job placement to financially at-risk, abused women. In the two years since its inception, the nonprofit agency has placed 178 women, ages 17 to 62, in career-oriented jobs with salaries ranging from $30,000 to $82,000 annually.

“They don’t need jobs, they need careers so they can continue on,” Mrs. Green said. She fears abuse victims will return to their abusers or homeless shelters if they do not have meaningful employment that raises their self-esteem and their prospects of financial independence.

Working with a network of human-resources partners she developed during her career, Mrs. Green insists that volunteers give her clients hands-on help in navigating the job-application process, from filling out forms to accompanying them to interviews.

“We fix them up, we dress them up, and we get them work,” Mrs. Green said. That includes, in some instances, a physical makeover.

Tonight, the serious, singularly focused Mrs. Green will receive an honor and a grant at George Washington University during the sixth annual lecture and awards program sponsored by the Lura Bradfield Foundation. It provides scholarships and promotes education for women as well as increased awareness about the devastating effects of family abuse.

October is Domestic Violence Month and numerous area community-service organizations and law-enforcement agencies are hosting programs to increase awareness about this insidious and invisible problem that remains society’s dirty little secret.

On Friday, yours truly was the keynote speaker at the “Into the Light III, Domestic Violence Training, It Happens in Your Community,” a daylong seminar at Hood College in Frederick, Md. It was promoted to “individuals who are concerned about the escalating problems associated with domestic violence and who are committed to stopping violence in their communities.”

One major objective of the enlightening and sometimes frightening conference, held under the auspices of the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office, was to understand myths surrounding domestic violence and how they perpetuate the cycle of abuse.

For example, women in rural areas are just likely as women in central cities and suburban counties to report being victims of intimate violence. From July 2002 to June 2003, 38 women, 18 children and 19 men were killed in Maryland as a result of domestic violence.

Mrs. Green agrees with many that domestic violence is a community issue. It does not simply affect individuals, it affects the entire community, and it will take the entire community to tackle this issue.

“Healthy families create stronger communities, which create stronger generations,” Mrs. Green said during an interview yesterday near the Arlington home she shares with her husband, Joseph, and 11-year-old daughter, Megan.

A petite, sophisticated blonde, she learned five languages globe-trotting with her father, a diplomat and a lawyer. She witnessed a lot of domestic abuse, especially in South America, that helped her conclude that the biggest obstacle facing domestic-violence victims trying to escape their abusers is gaining and maintaining financial independence for their families.

Mrs. Green is grateful that in this country she was able to gain knowledge and skills that made it possible for her to help other women. Her small D.C.-based agency receives minimum Labor Department grants, so it depends on donors and volunteers. She is able to employ only one administrative assistant and one part-time employment counselor.

With a master’s degree in human resources management from George Washington University and a doctorate in industrial organization, she has worked for the Agency for International Development and Smith, Bucklin and Associates. Her 15 years of community volunteer service started at area shelters when she took a hiatus from working after the birth of her daughter. Among many public appointments, she was selected by Virginia Gov. George Allen to serve on the board of trustees for the Family and Children’s Trust Fund.

At the Second Chance fund-raiser last month, Keisha White, an abused homeless mother who was hospitalized after a nervous breakdown, said the program gave her hope. They “opened the door for me to a job opportunity,” they helped her get professional clothing from Suited for Change and gave her a $500 deposit for child care.

“If it weren’t for Second Chance, I would still be on welfare, taking classes daily for a stipend. Instead, I’m back in the work force as a registered medical technician for George Washington University Hospital,” Ms. White said. “I am able to provide for my children with a job that strengthens my skills and helped me to be a role model for [my children].” Proof positive that Mrs. Green’s are no cheap, empty words.

More information about Second Chance is at www.scesnet.org or 202/486-7144. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence hot line is 800/799-1233.

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