Making a difference for brighter tomorrow
October 11, 2012
It took a community of givers to help Fariba Tabarrok escape a life-threatening relationship.
From the police officer and domestic violence counselor who rescued her from an abusive home situation to the judge who issued a protection order and the sheriff's deputy who arrested her husband multiple times, Tabarrok leaned on the support of Huntsville/Madison County's social services to take control, and rebuild her life and the lives of her two children.
To this day, she remains thankful to people who have made her life possible through their donations to the community's social services agencies. She brought her personal message of appreciation -- and her story of hope and challenge -- to Team Redstone on Oct. 3 as the guest speaker during the Combined Federal Campaign kickoff. The theme for this year's campaign is "Give Today. Make a Bright Tomorrow."
"If it wasn't for your investment, I wouldn't be here today," she told an audience of about 200 who attended the kickoff in Bob Jones Auditorium. "My children attend Auburn University on academic scholarships. I have two kids who have good mental health and who have had the opportunity to succeed in school. More importantly, they've got their dreams back. I've got my dreams back."
She said those who donate their time, talents and money to local community organizations are the reason America is still a place where people can "achieve their dreams, where hopes run rampant and success is a given."
The CFC kickoff started a fund-raising campaign to raise $2.5 million for local and national charities and social services working to improve the lives of the less fortunate and those who are facing trying times in their lives. Last year's Tennessee Valley CFC raised nearly $3 million, which is channeled through the campaign's fiscal agent, the United Way of Madison County, to the receiving charities.
"It's really humbling to see what Redstone gives and the impact it has on the community," Col. Jim Macklin, chief of staff for the Aviation and Missile Command and the host for the kickoff, said. "Fifty percent of the funds raised for United Way agencies locally last year came from this campaign. … There are a lot of national charities that you can give to. But if you give to the local charities listed in the CFC brochure then your donations will go right into this community, and you will be able to see where your precious dollars will make a difference."
Campaign volunteers will deliver CFC forms and brochures to Redstone Arsenal employees and other federal employees throughout the Tennessee Valley in the upcoming days. The campaign is being coordinated by volunteer chairman Capt. Justin Strom and volunteer co-chairman Maj. Terry Butler, who are working with hundreds of CFC ambassadors to reach 19,000 federal employees in the Tennessee Valley with the CFC message. The campaign will go through Dec. 14.
Tabarrok, who is the campaign director for the United Way of Madison County, said it typically takes six different social services to help a person recover from a tragedy, find stability in their life and regain their place in society. True to form, that's how many services she used once she decided to leave her abusive marriage.
There are times in life when people find themselves beaten down, overwhelmed and at a loss, where their situation makes it difficult and even impossible to climb the ladder of success and freedom.
"I've seen freedom everywhere I've been today in this building and on Redstone Arsenal," Tabarrok said. "People who get help really want to get better. Your donations focus on programs that are the strategies that help the victim climb the ladder to empowerment and freedom. The programs are the rungs of the ladder. Your investments are the solid ground that helps keep the ladder sturdy. The organizations you help fund are doing the work that anyone of us could need at any given time. You are helping those who can't help themselves."
Tabarrok reached out for that ladder of programs when, as a mother of a 14-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter, she took the steps to leave her abusive marriage. A college-educated woman married 18 years, Tabarrok became a participant in an "evolving domestic violence situation. Before you knew it the abnormal was normal and I couldn't figure out a way to get out."
The police were frequent visitors to the family's home. But after her children told their mom "he is going to kill you," Tabarrok finally found the courage to press charges against her abuser and walk away from the abusive situation.
"The domestic violence advocate who came to the house was powerful. She said 'We'll get you the help you need. He's not allowed to treat you this way,'" she recalled.
Crying, distraught and worried she would get into trouble, Tabarrok agreed to seek a protection order against her husband.
Yet, she had doubts about her situation even in the Madison County Courthouse. She kept thinking "Why will the judge believe me? I'm nothing. I'm nothing. I've never had anyone on my side."
But she did that day and for the months ahead. Before they allowed her to return home, the sheriff's department arrested her husband and confiscated nine weapons that he had planned to use on his wife. During the next months, her husband was arrested some 12 times before he realized he had to stay away from his family or he would be put in jail for a long time.
"I'm one of those people who thought I would never need help," she said. "I'm proud you were there to help me find it.
"You created a better path for me. When you believed in a stranger who didn't believe in herself, you empowered her and gave her freedom and the opportunity for success and growth. The stronger our people become the stronger our community becomes, one individual at a time. Your sharing for a stranger saved not just one life, but the lives of those two children who are now at college."
Strom, the campaign organizer, said he hopes all federal employees in North Alabama will respond to the CFC.
"Our community and our nation need us more today than ever before," he said. "Give for a better tomorrow."