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Published on September 19, 2019

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Be part of the solution to end domestic violence

In 2005, the Foundation established the Carilee Fund. Since then, the fund has helped more than 1,070 domestic abuse survivors. But the number of people needing help to escape abuse continues to exceed available funds. You can help. Donate during Domestic Violence Awareness month and make a positive impact in the lives of survivors.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It's difficult to imagine living with the threat of domestic violence…until it hits close to home. Gundersen employee Kim Salwolke knows all too well the reality of domestic abuse and shares her story:

My mom was a very special person who loved to help people. She loved her family and encouraged my brother and me to attend college and be successful in life. She did this as a way of protecting us because she often found it difficult to protect herself from the abuse from my alcoholic father.

Divorce and domestic violence weren't talked about as much as they are today. But my mother finally found the courage to leave my father. With that decision it felt as though positive changes would happen. My mother was going to have a safe place to live and she was looking forward to becoming a grandmother. But instead I received a phone call that changed my life forever.

My father shot my mother, then himself.

That was 27 years ago, but my brother and I still feel the heartache, knowing that if resources had been available for my mother, the outcome could have been different.

My mother was Carilee. To honor my mother, I want to help survivors safely escape the kind of life my mother had. So, with the help of Gundersen Medical Foundation we created the Carilee Fund. It helps survivors by removing obstacles to safety by providing confidential financial assistance for housing, utilities, transportation, legal fees and more.

Although her life was cut short, my mother lives on as an angel to help others survive.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, help is just a phone call away. The Carilee Fund is available to all victims of domestic and sexual abuse in the Coulee Region regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or where care is received, and it's always confidential. Contact the Gundersen Domestic Abuse/Sexual Assault Program at (608) 775-3454.

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