Small Healing Hearts Make a Big Difference

By: Denise Wong
By: Denise Wong

Moving forward after experiencing domestic violence can be traumatizing. The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is a major resource for victims - and the community has really pitched in when it comes to donating toiletries and clothing for survivors and their families. But one Reno man has come up with another way to help these victims heal... and his idea has taken shape.

Dennis Furgerson shows off some of the artwork he's created. From paintings to ceramics, there's a common theme: hearts. That's why his home feels like a heart factory. These days, he's putting a lot of his heart and soul into creating tiny porcelain charms. He calls them "healing hearts."

"I made to give people a good feeling and maybe some hope or strength when they're going through whatever they're going through," he says.

Dennis donates them to the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. They're included in packets handed out to victims of domestic violence. All of that paperwork can be overwhelming.

"It can seem like a lot!" says Kasey La Foon, the victim advocate for the Washoe County Sheriff's Office. "Especially if you're still going through the emotional trauma or the aftermath of experiencing a violent relationship."

That's why the healing hearts stand out in the packets. Along with the handwritten notes that Dennis includes. They tell the recipients to "Be well" and "Take Care." The little gifts are unexpected and they can help victims take heart while they are reminders that people who don't even know them are wishing them well.

" was thinking, well maybe they're given something for their physical needs," says Furgerson. "Kleenex or toothbrush or something like that, but they could also use something to make them feel better inside. Emotionally."

And La Foon, the victim advocate says, the small charms have made a big difference to victims.

"I'll be meeting with victims outside of court right before they go downstairs to meet with the judge and they'll be wearing the necklace and I've actually had people tell me that it gives them strength. It gives them the strength to be there, to know that other people in the community are thinking about them and care about them - and they're not alone in this. That they have that support," says La Foon. "They'll tell me how much it's touched their heart to know that someone else out there is thinking about them and cares."

Since Dennis Furgerson never meets the people who receive his healing hearts, they're always anonymous to him. But he wants them to know that he personally cares about them. That's why he signs his name to every card that he writes and includes in the packets and includes the line, "I hope you enjoy wearing it as much as I enjoy making it."

The Washoe County Sheriff's Office is always accepting donations of toiletries, snacks, and clothing for its victim advocate program. You can drop donations off at the front desk of the Sheriff's Office on Parr Boulevard - just let them know that the donations are for the Victim's Room.

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