The simple gesture of gathering quietly at a courthouse on a brisk autumn night is how a Calvert County tradition begins. The 2011 Domestic Violence Awareness Month event was held Monday evening, Oct. 24. After pausing for a brief prayer at the Courthouse Green in Prince Frederick, the gathering walked to the nearby Courthouse Square.

The program happens through the efforts of the Calvert County Crisis Intervention Center and the Calvert County Commission for Women.

“This is not a women’s issue,” said Crisis Intervention Center Director David Gale. “This is a community issue. It doesn’t matter what part of the economy someone comes from.”

Several T-shirts, custom-decorated by domestic violence victims, were hanging on the hearing room wall. The special shirts are part of Calvert’s 2011 Clothesline Project display.

Four individuals—Lou Oertley, Beverly Barth, Crystal Seay and Linda Bracey—received awards for their efforts in aiding domestic violence victims and making others aware of resources in the community to help fight what is arguably the number one crime in Calvert.

Tara Pavao, the Crisis Intervention Center’s community outreach coordinator, indicated it was a challenge keeping participants in the center’s Volunteer Advocate Program at adequate levels.

“It’s not easy, there is always a great demand,” said Pavao. “The volunteer sacrifice a couple of weekends a year in training.”

Pavao added there is “not enough funding, not enough staff” to respond to all the incidents of domestic violence in the community.

Oertly, who is currently employed as a District Court commissioner, recalled his days as the commander of the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Violence Unit. When dealing with male perpetrators in domestic violence incidents, “we had to convince the guy this was a crime, not a nuisance,” said Oertly. In accepting a proclamation issued by the Calvert County Commissioners acknowledging his “long history of volunteerism” on behalf of domestic violence victims, Oertly stated, “it’s heartwarming to be able to help people.”