FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Preparing for a court case can be difficult for trauma victims.
Their cases going to trial can mean reliving personal and painful details.
Women who work on their behalf in the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office wanted to do more to put them at ease.
They listen to the trauma of sexually and physically abused children and families impacted by homicide in The victim/witness waiting area.
“A space where we could talk with them and share the information that we needed to without us having to be in the courtroom where the defendant was and where other things were taking place,” Victim Witness Legal Assistant Portia Lakey said.
The team’s priority is to make sure the families they serve feel relaxed, but the room itself didn’t give the same impression.
“If I had to give it a word, I would say dreary,” Lakey said.
The staff agreed the room needed an upgrade. It was just a matter of how to do it.
“The DA’s office does not have a budget for these things. We are salaried employees of the state of North Carolina, but the things that we need to supplement and help our victims often come out of our pockets,” Chief Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Martin said.
Lakey was planning to buy items from a consignment shop store owner who instead put her in touch with Shannon Lee – the owner and operator of Shannon Lee Furniture & Decor based in Kernersville.
“I think when she sent the picture of the room and being somebody who went through some childhood trials of my own, I know what it was like to not have what I call ‘a safe space to be’ in a comfortable place,” Lee said.
Lee and her team donated furniture and transformed the room at no cost.
Staff members of the DA’s office who utilize the room can already see a difference in the victims they serve.
“This is a place where they can come and breathe, and I saw that with our children, with our witnesses. Everyone came in, and they were relaxed the moment we opened the door,” Victim Witness Assistant Kenya Turner said.
To show their appreciation, Martin and her colleagues renamed the room in Lee’s honor.
Lee hopes others will realize they have the power to do random acts of kindness, no matter where they are in life, and change someone’s day for the better.