In 1983 Ms. Juanita Knutson and the late Wilbert Broussard coordinated St. Nicholas Catholic Church’s Social Justice and Community Concern Programs under the pastoral guidance of Father John Gremillion and Father Bill Gunnershaw. Among other functions, this program provided food and clothing items to families in need. It was during the delivery of food that Ms. Knutson and Mr. Broussard began to notice the bruises and sometimes broken bones of the women in these families. The women and children were silently coping with Domestic Violence.
Remarkably, at the same time, another of SNAP’s founding mothers, Ms. Andrea Norris, was also becoming increasingly aware of the number of domestic violence incidents in our parish. Chez Hope, a domestic violence program located in Franklin was handling all of the calls from St. Mary Parish as well as our community. Chez Hope contacted Ms. Norris to see if she knew of anyone that could help. Little did they know a grassroots movement was in the making.
Ms. Norris and Ms. Knutson coordinated a network of concerned community members including, but not limited to, Mr. & Mrs. Wilbert Broussard, Mr. And Mrs. Steve Koch, Pastor Reggie Ogea, Ms. Bonnie Landry, of the Daily Iberian, and Ms. Ann Stevens, the City Prosecutor. SNAP refers to them as “The Magnificent Seven.”
This network of individuals provided shelter, in their homes, to the battered women and their children. Ms. Norris safe housed in her home 20 women and 60 children during the first year of operation! In the beginning there was NO funding and most law enforcement agents refused to get involved with “Domestic Issues.” As most of us know, in the early days, it was “not anyone’s business what goes on in another Man’s House.” Dangerous tactics were sometimes employed to free women from their abusers. Ms. Norris said that they were not above passing themselves off as social workers during a telephone conversation in their attempts to free the children from their abusive father.
Thankfully, the city police department saw the necessary work of the movement and eventually came on board with their help and support. With law enforcement assistance, women and children could be picked up and taken to one of the safe houses.
Ms. Knutson said the women were sometimes picked up in a big white van. They actually wanted the abuser and his cohorts to see them picking up the victim. Little did the abuser know that waiting volunteers would then make several quick car exchanges to ensure they were not followed.
Once safe and secure, the women and their children were given an opportunity to think and plan their next move. The safe houses allowed the family to stay for 3 days at a time. When necessary they were rotated to other such residences. In the event the survivors needed to relocate (for safety reasons) the network of volunteers would make contact with the three closest battered women’s shelters - Calcasieu Women's Shelter in Lake Charles, The Crescent House in New Orleans and the Capital Area Battered Women's Shelter in Baton Rouge regarding available bed space. If one of these shelters had space available, community members would pitch in to help with the funds necessary for transportation to the shelter.
The former Pastor of Highland Baptist Church, Reverend Reggie Ogea, was also a member of the network of families and friends who helped in the establishment of SNAP. Some volunteers carried a beeper and remained “on-call” for a 3 day rotation. It was during one of the network meetings that a discussion about a name for our organization came up. Ms. Norris said that she had recently read an article about the Cycle of Abuse which stated that a woman will leave and return to her abuser about seven (7) times before something finally SNAPS for her. They all agreed when someone suggested that “the name should be something snappy”. During this discussion someone else said “How about SNAP?” Everyone liked it. Ms. Norris said that they envisioned a net reaching down and catching the women and children. Her husband Terry designed the net that hangs under our name. So, they all played around with the letters of S.N.A.P. What could SNAP both symbolize and be an acronym for? Since safety was of the utmost importance, it was only fitting that “S” would stands for Safety; “N” would stand for the Net envisioned by Ms. Norris, “A” would stand for all the Abused individuals and “P” would symbolize Persons.
This is the story of our grassroots beginnings - many caring individuals who saw the needs of women in crisis and who bravely gave of themselves to make a difference.
Safety Net for Abused Persons (SNAP) is forever grateful to the men and women, organizations and businesses in and around our community who have continued to support the mission of SNAP.
SNAP received its 501 c status in 1985.
Annual Splash Bash
Join us the last Saturday in May from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the New Iberia Ciry Park for a family day of fun. Activities include swimming, face painting and fun jumps. Concessions will be available.
October is Domestice Violence Awareness Month
Join us for our Candlelight Vigil down Main St. and an eye opening program on Domestic Violence at the Sliman Theatre. Date will be announce at a later time. You may also display your commitment to ending Domestic Violence by displaying a purple bow at your business or home.
S.N.A.P.'s Annual Lighhearted Christmas Gala
Please click on our calendar link to find the date of our next Lighthearted Christmas. Join us for a wonderful evening of entertainment. Both silent and live auctions will be held to raise money for the S.N.A.P. Shelter. Food and drinks are included. For ticket information call 337-367-7627 or email email@example.com.