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Trumbull Clothesline Project Promotes Healing Among Abuse Survivors

Trumbull Rotary Club President Ed Gillespie, Center for Family Justice President and CEO Debra A. Greenwood and Rotarians Sue Horton and Steve Hodson stand in front of The Clothesline Project in Trumbull. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
One of the scores of T-shirts decorated by survivors of abuse hangs near Trumbull Library as part of The Clothesline Project. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Colored T-shirts decorated by abuse survivors and their supporters hang amid the trees near Trumbull Library as part of The Clothesline Project. The project will be on display until Oct. 21. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller
Sue Horton, a member of the Trumbull Rotary Club, hangs T-shirts for The Clothesline Project. Photo Credit: Carolyn Mueller

TRUMBULL, Conn. --  The T-shirts strung on clotheslines among the trees next to Trumbull Library this week may appear to be someone’s colorful laundry drying in the breeze.

But it’s not.

The Trumbull Rotary Club is displaying the annual Clothesline Project, where T-shirts decorated by abuse survivors and their supporters are on view, to raise awareness of domestic violence. Rotarians began hanging T-shirts after their meeting Friday morning.

Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of The Center for Family Justice, was a speaker at the meeting. She joined Rotarians Sue Horton, Steve Hodson and club President Ed Gillespie at the clothesline after the meeting.

“It’s a way for victims to express ‘what abuse means to me,’” Greenwood said. “It’s very therapeutic, it’s another step on the journey of survivorship.”

“The Rotary Club has always been so generous,” she said. In addition to the Trumbull Rotary Club, The Clothesline Project, which is sponsored by The Center for Family Justice, also has support from Trumbull Cares, the Trumbull Library and Trumbull Woman’s Club.

Gillespie noted that the Interact Club at Trumbull High School was also participating in The Clothesline Project, so more T-shirts would be joining the display.

This is the ninth year the Trumbull community has participated in The Clothesline Project. Steve Hodson was inspired to bring it to the Trumbull Rotary Club after a series of things brought his attention to the issue of abuse.

“I first saw the clothesline when visiting my son at Swarthmore (College),” he said. “Reading the T-shirts was very moving.”

“Then, a year later, I rented the movie 'Speak' from the library. It featured Kristen Stewart, before the vampire movies, and Channing Tatum. It was about a girl in high school who had experienced abuse. Through an art class, she was finally able to talk to her mother about it, so the process of healing could begin. It was a great movie.”

Finally, some time after that, Hodson found himself at the Fairfield Theatre Co. when his daughter sang in a show for the Center for Women and Children, now known as The Center for Family Justice.

“That’s three times I noticed,” Hodson said. “So it was time to do something.”

He brought The Clothesline Project to the Trumbull Rotary Club, and things grew from there. Community members continue to step up. Hodson noted that Uniformz in Bridgeport donated the T-shirts this year.

Hodson pointed out the two main priorities of The Clothesline Project.

“No. 1 is to promote healing. It’s very effective,” he said. “The second thing is to create awareness. The Center for Family Justice now has counseling centers in all their catchment cities.”

The T-shirts that are part of this year’s project will hang from a clothesline near the Trumbull Library until Friday, Oct. 21. A small number will also be on display during CFJ’s annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month Vigil, scheduled this year for Tuesday at 6 p.m. at the Nichols Improvement Association.

T-shirts are available for the public to decorate at the Trumbull Library’s Quality Street service desk.

The Center for Family Justice serves Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.

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