Friday, May 11, 2012
Georgetown’s pioneering Family Justice Center board members are really proud of their executive director.
Vicki Bourus is the recipient of the Distinguished Humanitarian Award. The South Carolina Victims Assistance Network presents the award only every four to five years.
“We feel very special she chose to come out of retirement,” Carol Winans said. “We got her to say she’ll go to work for us.”
“She is so passionate about the things she’s done for victims of domestic violence.
“She’s made things better state-wide for them.”
Winans and her husband Garvey are among the founders of the Safe Family Initiative which has changed to the Family Justice Center.
At the office on Highmarket Street in Georgetown, people who are faced with domestic violence can talk with city and county law enforcement, Solicitor’s office, Department of Social Services and other helping agencies.
Bourus has worked in Columbia for about 12 years as an advocate for victims.
She was the executive director of the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault until her retirement in 2011.
She is a licensed social worker and has worked to help victims of domestic and sexual assault since 1986.
Bourus has provided information on legislation and has helped establish shelters.
“Vicki is soft-spoken and so strong at the same time,” Winans said. “It fascinates me.”
Dick Clute, an advisor to the board, said “She’s extremely polite but so strong. She knows where she wants to take the organization.”
Bourus has worked to build relationships, bringing different organizations together to help victims. “We’ve had some very constructive and positive conversations with them.”
“If anybody in the state deserves the [Distinguished Humanitarian] award, she does,” he said.
The Winans asked Bourus and her husband to join them for supper Friday night, not knowing that the Family Justice Center board planned a surprise drop-in to recognize her.
“I really was speechless,” Bourus said, when she was at the S.C. Victims Assistance Network (SC VAN) Victims’ Rights Week conference in Columbia and received the award.
“I was sitting there” when they said my name. “I thought I was going to fall out of my chair,” she said.
“It was overwhelming, and wonderful.”
She joked that with her career in Columbia and around the state, “It wasn’t until I retired that my husband realized not everyone ate sandwiches for supper.”
And, her work with FJC in Georgetown has been good.
“I feel like I’ve been adopted,” she said of the organization and the agencies who help the victims.
By Tommy Howard