Dylan Moroses – NorthJersey.com – October is a crowded month dedicated to national causes like breast cancer awareness and bullying prevention, and a Cedar Grove resident is making sure National Domestic Violence Awareness Month also gets the attention it deserves.

Cicala developed a fundraiser that is two-fold in its approach; it honors his late mother-in-law, Joan Galligan, who died 10 years ago in a domestic violence incident, and it supports current domestic violence victims by donating all the contributions to the Essex County Family Justice Center in Newark.

The justice center, which began five years ago, consists of a number of resources concentrated in a single location, including civil and legal services, police officers and officials from the prosecutor’s office for law enforcement services, and shelter services, said John Lovrich, director of development and communications for Essex County Family Justice Center.

“It’s a single location for government and community-based services,” Lovrich said. “Oftentimes, the biggest thing they need is physical access to these resources during their crisis.”

Galligan was killed in December a decade ago “at the hands of another person in a domestic violence incident,” and Cicala said he thought a fundraiser was a great way to show remembrance and support to victims in similar situations, he said.

Cicala represents victims of domestic violence in Essex County, and said he far too often sees them left without legal support.

Nearly 82 percent of the victims who visit the family justice center are considered low income, and nearly 75 percent of all clients come from the urban communities in Essex County, including Newark, East Orange, Orange and Irvington, Lovrich said.

“For someone who is a victim of domestic violence, if they can’t afford an attorney, they usually don’t get one,” Cicala said. “There are very few instances where some organizations will provide an attorney. It’s not like a criminal case, where if you don’t have one, you are represented by a prosecutor or public defender.”

Essex County is ranked first in New Jersey for the amount of reported domestic violence incidents and reported domestic violence homicides, Lovrich said.

“It’s a very difficult, oftentimes scary process representing yourself in a domestic violence case, trying to obtain a restraining order,” Lovrich said.

The Essex County Family Justice Center sees about 1,200 clients a year, offering them counseling and resources.

In some cases, they can even provide temporary housing for victims, Cicala said.

The fundraiser, coordinated on GoFundMe.com, is a great resource to directly send the money to the county justice center without any obstacles, Cicala said.

“We were very touched and honored for Mr. Cicala to donate to us,” Lovrich said. “It’s remarkable the level of support he’s received and we’re so thankful. This is very special.”

The fundraiser collected $2,200 of its $2,500 goal.

To view original article click here: Cedar Grove BOE President Starts Fundraiser for Domestic Violence Awareness Month