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Editor's note: This story was updated on Oct. 25 to correct the number of lives lost to domestic violence in 2020.

A local police department, business and high school student were honored by the Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania (DVSSP) at the 15th Annual Peace Begins at Home Dinner.

The dinner was canceled last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it returned Oct. 13 at the Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh/Southpointe in Canonsburg. More than 200 people attended the event, which honored the Cecil Township Police Department, Hartman and Hartman Construction in Brownsville and Nina Thompson, a senior at Bentworth High School.

“We were thrilled to bring our annual dinner back again after we had to cancel it last year due to COVID,” said Lisa G. Hannum, DVSSP CEO. “I am extremely proud to say that during the pandemic, we never closed our doors, and we never stopped providing services to clients at a time when they needed our help the most.”

Every dollar raised help provide free and confidential services for survivors in Washington, Greene and Fayette counties.

The Cecil Township Police Department was recognized for its active participation in the Lethality Assessment Program. Through this program, survivors of domestic violence are given a brief survey when officers arrive on the scene, and depending on the lethality, the survivor can be immediately connected with DVSSP for services.

A similar program in Maryland resulted in a 34% reduction in domestic violence homicides.

A donation of construction expertise, time and materials by Hartman and Hartman allowed DVSSP to move into a new administrative office in Brownsville last year. The company also supports DVSSP with monthly donations and recently donated a vehicle to transport clients. Hartman and Hartman staff members are encouraged to volunteer for the agency.

Thompson is the founder of the Pillows for Peace Program, which has provided DSVVP’s youth clients with 800 Pillows for Peace bags over the past six years. The creation of the bags involved about $35,000 of donations and more than 5,000 volunteer hours.

The bags include stuffed animals and personal care items to help make youth clients’ stay at the safe house more comfortable.

Keynote speaker for the dinner was Aspirant CEO and DVSSP board member Mike McClaine.

Every table at the dinner had an empty place setting in recognition of the lives lost to domestic violence. In 2019, 109 individuals lost their lives to domestic violence in Pennsylvania.

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