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June 29, 2010


Montclair, New Jersey/December 3, 2010 – The Avon Foundation for Women has awarded a one-year grant to Partners for Women and Justice for a program that assists children who have been exposed to domestic violence.  Not Seen Not Heard: Helping Children of Domestic Violence is an ongoing awards program under the auspices of the Avon Foundation Speak Out Against Domestic Violence initiative.  Partners for Women and Justice was one of 15 grant recipients selected from among 400 applicants nationwide.

As a grant recipient of Not Seen Not Heard: Helping Children of Domestic Violence, Partners for Women and Justice will address the need for protection of children in the community from trauma when parents or caretakers are victims of domestic abuse.  Award criteria included the organization’s ability to offer innovative legal and support services to achieve justice and safety for victims and improve the ability of a custodial parent to manage parenting in a safe way by securing legal protections.

With the grant, Partners for Women and Justice has hired Montclair resident Drew Gustus as a staff attorney.  Mr. Gustus is a former pro bono attorney for the organization and successfully handled several restraining order cases for the organization’s clients before joining Partners.  The grant also allowed Partners to hire West Orange resident Melgily Valdez, a recent college graduate, as a bi-lingual paralegal.  Both work primarily with victims of domestic violence who need legal assistance in resolving visitation and custody issues.  Ms. Valdez is sited at Essex County Family Justice Center, where she conducts intake for victims of domestic violence seeking legal assistance.

Carol Kurzig, President, Avon Foundation for Women, noted that “Partners for Women and Justice is delivering critical services to the often forgotten victims of domestic violence – the children who witness it.  We are proud to support their efforts to help end the cycle of violence.”

“We are extremely proud that the Avon Foundation for Women shares our mission to help children of domestic violence and has chosen to support our efforts.  With these funds we will be able to effectively advocate on behalf of victims of domestic violence and their children in approximately 150 court proceedings dealing with custody and visitation (annually),” says Jane M. Hanson, executive director of Partners for Women and Justice.  “Drew and Melgily are doing a terrific job fighting for the legal protections victims of domestic violence deserve for themselves and their children.  Our clients can’t say enough good things about these two dedicated advocates.”

Partners for Women and Justice is a 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to effecting positive change in the lives of low income and abused women and their children.  It empowers low-income and abused women to build safe and secure futures for themselves and their children by providing equal access to justice.  The organization offers quality legal assistance in domestic violence and family law matters and guidance to promote financial competence and independence.

For more information about Partners for Women and Justice visit  To learn more about Avon Foundation Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program visit