WALDO, Maine — When two local women were killed at their homes, allegedly by their partners, in June and July, it became a tough summer for many people in Waldo County, including Ellie Hutchinson, a community educator at New Hope For Women, a midcoast Maine domestic violence awareness project.
Deborah Littlefield of Brooks was killed with a rifle allegedly fired by her husband, Michael Littlefield, at the couple’s home on June 25. Pamela Green allegedly was strangled by her boyfriend, Dennis Edgecomb, on July 20 in her Morrill home. Both men have pleaded not guilty to murder charges and remain in jail awaiting trial.
“There are so many people hurting,” Hutchinson said Monday. “Families and friends and co-workers and members of churches who are all grieving.”
The summer tragedies have made Domestic Violence Awareness Month, held every October, seem even more important than usual — which is one reason the educator was glad to receive a gift of eight 4-foot-tall purple ribbons made of a composite wood by the building construction class at the Region 7 Waldo County Technical Center in Waldo.
A class of nine high school juniors and seniors spent much of the past three weeks working on the ribbons, which they presented to Hutchinson on Monday. The ribbons, which bear the words “End Domestic Violence,” will be displayed in communities all over Knox and Waldo counties, she said.
“I’m amazed,” Hutchinson said upon seeing the large purple ribbons. “I think they’re great.”
Rebecca Trimble, 17, a senior from Stockton Springs, took charge of the project, according to building construction teacher Drew Fales.
Students traced the ribbon onto boards of an engineered wood called Advantek, then cut them out using a jigsaw. They painted them using paint donated by Sherwin-Williams Co. of Rockland and decorated them with letters donated by Belfast Sign and Design of Belfast. Other materials, and time, were donated by Buxton Supplies on the Monroe-Brooks town line and by the technical center.
“It’s for a good cause,” Trimble said. “It’s work, and I like it.”
According to Fales, students at the center are available to help with community projects.
“We live in such a wonderful world that we have to give back,” he said. “That’s my feeling about it.”
Hutchinson said that anything that can be done to increase awareness of domestic violence is very important. School-based advocates from her agency speak to students at local schools, including the technical center, to help educate them about patterns of abuse and healthy relationships.
“Domestic violence is the silent epidemic that happens behind closed doors,” she said. “People don’t talk about it. It feeds on isolation. All year long, we try to bring it out to the light of day, so people can see it, identify it and say, ‘No, we don’t want that here.’”
Other October activities planned by New Hope for Women include the memorial exhibit “An Empty Place at the Table,” which consists of a dining table surrounded by empty chairs and set with tableware donated by the families of women and a baby killed in domestic violence homicides in Knox, Waldo and Lincoln counties. That exhibit will be on display today at the Camden Public Library; Friday, Oct. 8, at the Belfast Free Library; and Thursday, Oct. 14, at the Rockland Public Library.