Portraits of Peace House History: Safety, Support, and Stability

Tim Savage (Director of Program Operations), Kate Stone (Director of Residential Services), Suhad Khudhair (Housing Coordinator),
Ahmed  Fateh (Housing Navigator), 2021

This year marks 25 years of Peace House serving survivors of family violence and abuse in Summit and Wasatch counties through shelter, support services, education and outreach. As part of our 25th Anniversary Year, each month we are spotlighting some of the many individuals who have shaped Peace House history. Throughout the year, we will be honoring and commemorating all those who have supported the life-saving and life-changing work that Peace House has offered our community over the past 25 years.

A priority of Peace House has always been “to provide 24-hour crisis care and services to individuals who experience crisis due to domestic violence,” as stated in their 1992 articles of incorporation. In those days, phone numbers linked to pagers were Peace House’s first line of support to survivors. Volunteer advocates responded to calls from victims; they also fielded calls from law enforcement, who had established a protocol with Peace House to provide in-person support to survivors through their victim advocates. Before the Peace House shelter was built in 1995, their trained victim advocates met survivors wherever they were needed. Often that was at the police station, Mt. Air Cafe, or any public place where a victim might feel safe, recounts Mary Ford of Jean Paulson, who handled many of these early calls in the 1990s. (Peace House History: Mary Ford) Because Summit and Wasatch counties had limited support services for victims of domestic abuse, they often referred callers to resources like the YWCA Women’s Shelter in Salt Lake City.

Over the past 28 years, Peace House—originally known as Domestic Peace Task Force (DPTF)—has expanded their services far beyond their helpline. Peace House now offers extensive outreach services, emergency shelter, and transitional housing, as well as a wide range of education and awareness programs. They support survivors at every point of need, while always addressing victims’ safety first. Peace House remains dedicated to ending interpersonal violence and abuse as they empower survivors to heal and thrive by providing support services, safe housing, and prevention education.

Pepe Grimaldo: Bilingual Outreach Coordinator

In the early 1990s, Jean Paulson, a founder of Domestic Peace Task Force, established the organization’s first victim advocacy program. Jean and her co-worker Jeannie Edens, who joined DPTF in 1996, helped victims to fill out and file protective orders and ensure the orders were served. In addition, they supported victims throughout their legal process. Through this work, Jean and Jeannie became invaluable to the District Attorney’s offices in Summit and Wasatch counties, and in 2000 they became incorporated into the offices at the Summit County Justice Center. (Peace House History: Jean Paulson and Linda Hathaway)  Although the county offices continue to work closely with Peace House to provide system-based legal advocacy to survivors, Peace House offers ongoing community-based legal advocacy at their new community campus as well. The partnership among Peace House, Summit and Wasatch counties, and Heber City’s and Park City’s victim advocates is important for victims’ safety. System advocates who have worked alongside Peace House include Jeannie Edens, Marsha Probst, Malena Stevens, Devan Bobo, and Megan Galati. 

Laura Grimaldo, known as Pepe, has been providing civil legal-advocacy support to survivors of domestic violence for many years, assisting clients in both Spanish and English. Her current position as the Bilingual Outreach Coordinator has grown out of her fourteen years serving the community by providing outreach, advocacy, and case management services at Peace House.  Pepe would often go to court with her clients and thus began to understand the nuances of the civil and criminal legal systems. As a result of her experiences, she understood the importance of supporting survivors as they navigate through the courts to safety.

Pepe educates survivors about their civil legal rights and resources so they may make informed decisions as they create stable safety plans. Sometimes part of a client’s safety plan may include petitioning for a protective order. Protective orders provide immediate legal protection from a victim’s perpetrator and are followed by a formal protective hearing within 20 days of the order. Hearings require that the victim has legal counsel. Since 2017, Peace House has almost exclusively worked with Laja Thomspon, a local Park City family lawyer who is contracted with Utah Legal Services (ULS), a nonprofit law office in Salt Lake City that provides free legal assistance to Utahns in non-criminal cases. Laja generously gives her time and expertise to serve clients in Summit County. Laja on average represents between one to four survivors at their protective order hearings each month.

Utah Legal Services also provides legal counsel to victims in Wasatch County through their Provo office. ULS has been one of Peace House’s first calls to represent clients for more than 20 years, although Peace House also relies on other nonprofit organizations and legal firms that offer pro-bono or sliding-scale legal services for protective-order hearings, civil injunctions, and divorce and custody cases. Pepe connects Peace House clients with whichever legal representation can best serve them based on their needs, financial resources, and where their legal proceedings are being held. 

One barrier that may keep survivors from seeking services or protection from a perpetrator is their immigration status. As needed, Pepe educates survivors on the laws and visas that support immigrants who are undocumented. Peace House partners with Holy Cross Ministries, who offers legal support for immigrant victims of violence. Together they work with law enforcement and victims to complete a U-visa application if they are undocumented, or a visa through VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) if an immigrant is married to an American citizen. Another option is a T-visa application, which is available for victims of sex trafficking. Peace House values the safety of all victims of interpersonal violence to ensure that they are protected under the law. Pepe’s commitment to understanding the legal resources and helping survivors navigate the legal process has earned her the respect of those she serves and the community.

Maria Booth: A Legal Hero For Survivors

Victims often need to file a legal action to protect themselves and their families from their perpetrators. Peace House has been fortunate to partner with generous expert attorneys who have been willing to provide pro-bono legal counsel to support survivors of domestic violence and abuse.

One of the earliest lawyers in Peace House’s history was Maria Booth. Maria was a law student at Brigham Young University when she joined DPTF meetings in 1993. She first became involved as a way to become connected with the community.  As a woman navigating single parenthood, finishing law school, studying to pass the bar, and establishing herself as an attorney, she found role models in the early founding members of DPTF.  Maria looked up to Jean Paulson, Evelyn Richards, Mary Ford, and Teri Orr, who became mentors to her. (Portraits of Peace House Histories) She also had important male role models, including DPTF’s treasurer, Rick Zaharias, from whom she learned about nonprofit finance, and board member Joe Tesch, another well-respected lawyer who offered his time and legal counsel to the organization. 

Maria decided the best way for her to serve Peace House was by providing pro-bono protective orders for survivors. She attended one to four protective-order hearings a month for almost seven years. Often the survivors she represented in the hearings were not able to afford or find legal counsel for their divorce cases. Maria had not been trained to do family law—and had no intention of practicing family law—but she ended up doing three to four pro-bono divorce cases a month to help survivors. Ultimately, nearly half of her law practice focused on family law. 

Her commitment to providing legal support for survivors also came by way of offering continuing legal education for local attorneys. Hosting one-day trainings became Maria’s “public-interest project,” she says. Maria asked for the help of Utah Legal Services. For only $25, she offered training to between 30 and 40 attorneys who attended a one-day seminar at Deer Valley, led by ULS. The training was specific to domestic violence, and they asked the lawyers who attended if they would provide pro-bono work to support survivors.   

Maria was also part of the Domestic Peace Task Force’s early trainings to educate law enforcement about the cycle of domestic violence. She notes the critical role that Mary Ford, a detective for the Park City Police Department, played in building the bridge between DPTF and law enforcement. (Peace House History: Mary Ford) Maria recalls that she felt the police department really began to understand the impact domestic violence has on survivors—and the value of DPTF—in the 1990s, when she did pro-bono work for two male police officers who had been victims of domestic violence. These cases allowed police officers to see first hand how DPTF was able to assist survivors, and what valuable resources their advocates were to law enforcement. 

Maria served as the secretary for DPTF’s board of directors for many years until she resigned in 2000. She remembers she was not quite ready to leave the board, yet she heeded the advice once given by one of her mentors, Teri Orr: “Boards need to breathe, they need fresh blood, they need to change.” Leaving the board gave her more time to focus on her family, while still remaining a committed champion to the cause of ending domestic violence. On December 8, 1998, the Utah Domestic Violence Council honored Maria Booth’s efforts in support of survivors by giving her the Angel of Peace award. 

Sexual Assault Advocacy

RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest Network) defines sexual assault as “sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim.” [1]  Peace House has been serving sexual assault survivors to the best of their abilities throughout their 25-year history. This service is the result of the intersectionality between domestic violence and sexual assault as recognized by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), which states that “between 40% and 45% of women in an abusive relationship will also be sexually assaulted. The intersection between domestic violence and sexual assault is quite large. In fact, between 14% and 25% of women are sexually assaulted by an intimate partner in the course of their relationship.” [2]  These organizations have also reported that every 73 seconds, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States.  

Pepe and other case managers at Peace House have helped sexual assault survivors alongside the county and city’s victim advocates. For those victims who experience interpersonal violence and file a police report, the system-based advocates in the county and city offer substantial support to survivors, says Pepe. Yet victims often don’t want to report their sexual assault, she notes, because of their feelings of shame, their religion, the assault’s happening within their marriage, their immigration status, or other concerns. Peace House encourages victims to report but respects their choices and offers survivors confidentialty within the bounds of their mandate to report any sexual violence or abuse against children. Peace House has traditionally referred sexual assualt clients to their specialized community partners, such as Rape Recovery Center in Salt Lake City. 

To better serve victims of sexual assult, Peace House hired their first Sexual Assault Services Coordinator, Veronica Bustillos, in April 2020. In her first year, Veronica has focused on building relationships with Peace House community partners, developing initial policies and procedures for the Sexual Assault Services program, and launching a pilot program for hospital response. Peace House’s community-based Hospital Response Team (HRT) provides in-person advocacy to victims of rape and sexual assault while they seek medical care and/or a forensic exam at a hospital or clinic. Sexual assault forensic exams are provided by a sexual assault nurse examiner who offers compassionate and specialized medical care and evidence collection. HRT advocates may remain with victims before, during, and after the medical interview and examination to explain procedures, answer questions, and advocate for them. Advocates may also act as liaisons among medical staff, law enforcement, and/or victims’ family members or friends who may be present at the hospital. Additionally, HRT advocates may assist victims with safety planning and refer them to other Peace House services, programs, and community partners to support their safety and healing.

Housing Navigation

A vital part of Peace House’s offerings, the Residential Services program today includes eight emergency shelter rooms—where the average client stay is 30 days—and 12 transitional housing apartments intended to provide approved applicants housing for six to 24 months as they transition to safe long-term housing. The current Director of Residential Services at the new community campus, Kate Stone, came to Peace House in November 2011. Before assuming this position, Kate started as a night-shift advocate and then became Shelter Director. She has helped establish housing protocols and systems for Peace House’s expanded shelter and transitional housing programs and has also played an important role in developing and implementing Peace House’s new Housing Navigation program. 

Kendra Wyckoff, Peace House Executive Director (2017-present), explains the need behind the new Housing Navigation program: “Domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness for families in our country. It often is the immediate cause of homelessness for women and children.” Peace House understands that securing housing is a huge barrier to both a survivor’s short-term and long-term safety. In 2020, Peace House doubled down in their efforts to help survivors overcome these barriers. With the support of Kendra and the board’s executive committee, Kate hired Suhad Khudhair as Housing Coordinator, and Ahmed Fatech as Housing Navigator. Kendra says, “These housing roles help address the adverse experience of homelessness for trauma survivors by helping them move to safe, affordable, permanent housing in our communities.” 

Suhad and Ahmed serve clients who temporarily live on campus, as well as survivors who live in the community. Their responsibilities include “developing and building strong foothold connections” within the housing community, says Kate. Suhad’s efforts over the past year have included attending community housing meetings, developing relationships with landlords, seeking additional resources and financial assistance to support survivors, finding new housing options in and outside Summit County, and supporting clients so they can stay in their homes and avoid eviction. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has added additional obstacles to retaining and finding housing for clients, these services are particularly important.

Suhad also has had the unique opportunity to review and accept the first two applications to Peace House’s transitional housing apartments. Once the applicants had met the necessary qualifications and requirements, including specific screenings and orientation, Suhad supported them as they moved across the building from the emergency shelter into the transitional housing units. This was a notable event in Peace House’s history, as the first residents found safety and stability in their new, fully furnished apartments.

Ahmed partners closely with Suhad, while also working directly with residents who enter the emergency shelter. He meets with them to learn about their housing preferences and reviews where they might be struggling and where they need help. He works with their case managers and identifies resources in the community that could best support them. Ahmed says that the most critical thing he offers clients is the time he takes with each of them to create a customized financial plan. In doing this, he shows clients what housing options they are able to afford, while helping them find additional resources and assistance they may qualify for. He has been working toward creating lists of housing options in and outside Summit and Wasatch counties to give clients more affordable options.

In addition, Ahmed and Suhad have created a housing orientation that is part of their outreach program. They teach survivors how to be successful tenants, how to avoid eviction, how to keep their apartment clean, how to communicate with the housing coordinator, and how best to communicate and connect with resources available to them. They have found this training useful in setting up survivors for success in finding, maintaining, and retaining new and safe housing.

The Impact of Outreach

As defined by Merriam-Webster, outreach means  “the act of reaching out,” including “the extending of services or assistance beyond current or usual limits.” Outreach is exactly what a group of church ladies did when they met for the first time at St. Mary’s on Park Avenue in Park City in 1990, following the domestic homicide of Summit County resident Nadalee Noble. This initial group of women reached out to the community as a whole, with a mission to raise awareness and expand resources to survivors of domestic violence within their communities—services that were nonexistent at the time. Their grassroots efforts began simply by raising awareness and establishing a hotline for victims to have access to support. Today, Peace House bravely and boldly reaches out into their communities and beyond to shelter, educate, advocate, and support all survivors of interpersonal violence, with the help of their community partners. 

Researched and written by Karen Marriott

Edited by Sandra More


2* Sexual Assault

1. Pepe Grimaldo (Bilingual Outreach Coordinator/ Legal Advocate, 2004-present), Colleen Fordyce (Staff, 2001-2014), Jane Patten (Executive Director 2004-2016), Kit Gruelle, Ann Johnson (Development Director 2011-2016), Carol Snyder (Assistant Director, 2010-2016), 2014. 
2. Transitional Housing apartment kitchen
3. 1997 Park Record article on Jean Paulson
4. Transitional Housing apartment
5. Maria Booth
6. Laja Thompson
7. PC Unidos