Community seeks refuge for domestic violence victims 

Karen’s House organizers Barbara Gomes, from left, President Tiffany (Jorge) Sequeira, Elizabeth Velazquez, and Margaret Harlow discuss building the first woman’s shelter in Colusa County at the non-profit’s first meeting on Feb. 20 at Granzella’s banquet hall.


Women who have endured abuse from a domestic partner and those who want to put an end to abuse in Colusa County came together last week to build a comprehensive domestic violence program that honors the late Karen Garcia.

Garcia, 21, went missing on Jan. 8 and was found dead almost a week later in Woodland. Her boyfriend, Salvador Garcia, Jr. who was charged with domestic violence in December, is wanted in her murder but remains on the run.

“I feel that we owe it to Karen not to let this happen again,” said Tootie Hackett, who came up with the idea for Karen’s House, a women’s shelter that would also offer education, support and resources to women trying to leave an abusive relationship.

“We have to break the cycle of abuse.” she said

About 30 people attended the first meeting of Karen’s House. The house would be the first domestic violence shelter in Colusa County.

The Feb. 20 meeting was a whirlwind of activity, as the group plans to move quickly to establish its non-profit status and begin fundraising.

Hackett said the family also wants Sal found and charged with Karen’s murder so the family can move on. He was charged with domestic valance against the mother of his child in December, and the group hopes to post a larger reward for information that could lead to his arrest.”

“We need some justice for this family,” Hackett said. “Somebody knows something.”

Hackett worked at Granzella’s with Karen and her mother, Gloria.

Hackett’s niece, Tiffany (Jorge) Sequeira, was selected president of the Board of Directors. The committee includes Melissa Baikie-Rick, Martha Torres, Helen Azevedo, Flor Solis, and people from across Colusa County, including Barbara Gomes and others from throughout Colusa County.

Sequeira, who was born and raised in Williams, said she was excited to be a part of building Karen’s House.

“We definitely want to do this in honor of Karen,” Sequeira said. “We want to bring Karen justice, but we also want to create a safe place for women and domestic violence victims and children, so they can be empowered. We also want to bring domestic violence awareness and prevention to Colusa County.”

Williams City Manager Frank Kennedy and Supervisors Kent Boes, who represents the district where the shelter will be located, have also offered to help.

The group said proclamations by the City Council and Board of Supervisors every October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month have not been enough to curb domestic violence.

In addition to fundraising, they know they will need help from the two cities and Colusa County to obtain the kind of grants that could build Karen’s House from the ground up.

“We want it all,” Hackett said. “We want a shelter. We want a place where women can get counseling, and an education if they need it, and self defense classes.”

Colusa County currently has no counseling services available to anyone who is not on state assistance, no confidential support group, and the closest temporary shelter is located in Sutter County, Azevedo said.

“We need something here,” Azevedo said. “It’s time.”

Karen’s House will meet at 6 PM every third Tuesday of the month at Granzella’s banquet hall.

The primary purpose for the meetings will be to plan community events and fundraisers. Possibilities include a rib cook-off following the Pioneer Day Parade and an invisible ball, the group suggested.  The group also plans to take part in all the local parades, including the Maxwell and Stonyford rodeo parades, the Colusa County Fair Parade, and the Pioneer Day Parade in Williams.

“We want Karen’s House to be a countywide program,” said Barbara Gomes, a member of the Public Relations Committee.

Meetings are not intended to be a confidential support group, so anyone who would like to help is welcome to attend. ■