NLSLA Client Who Overcame Incredible Odds Receives 2023 Joni Berry Award
Amelia Carrillo, a 27-year-old domestic violence survivor and single mother of three children, was first referred to NLSLA in June 2022, seeking support as she struggled to stabilize her life and keep custody of her children in the aftermath of an abusive relationship. The tremendous strides she has made since then to break the cycle of generational trauma and overcome great odds were honored on March 24, when she received the 2023 Joni Berry Award from the Nancy Painter Foundation. Amelia’s advocates at NLSLA were there to cheer her on when Charlene and Walter Painter presented Amelia with her award, which includes much-needed cash assistance. NLSLA client and now board member Selene Zamora, who received the previous year’s award, was also in attendance.
“I felt like giving up, but I already know how that feels,” Amelia said. “I had to find my dignity as a woman. I have been working on myself and building each broken piece. Now, I am looking forward to learning how it feels to not give up.”
Amelia went to great lengths to protect her children from their abusive father. She obtained a restraining order and fought for full legal custody. She had been ordered by the Department of Children and Family Services to enroll in domestic violence and parenting courses, but she far exceeded the department’s requirements, engaging in just about every support she could find. She enrolled in a six-month outpatient rehabilitation service and has now been sober for more than 14 months. She fought for justice and support for her daughter, who had been abused by her husband’s roommate, ensuring that her abuser went to prison for his offense and that her daughter had the professional help she needed to process and heal from the abuse.
Today, Amelia continues to engage in services at NLSLA and remains a participant in our domestic violence support groups and individual counseling. She has shown outstanding leadership abilities, engaging her peers outside of NLSLA’s classes and creating safe spaces for community amongst other single mothers. She is enrolled in community college and is considering a career in social work. And she continues to grab every opportunity to set an example of resilience and courage for her children.