DENVER (CBS4) — The Rose Andom Center has helped more than 4,000 victims of domestic violence reclaim their lives. The Downtown Denver facility opened in 2016, but the story of how it came to be began more than 50 years ago in Oklahoma.
"I'll never forget the night that my father had a gun to her head," remembered Rose Andom. "My two brothers and myself huddled around her crying saying 'please don't shoot our mom, please don't shoot our mom.'"
Rose Andom was 8-years-old when her uncle drove to their home in the middle of the night to help her mother and siblings escape their father's violence. They threw whatever they could in his car and fled to Kansas City.
"I'll never forget how lonely and helpless I felt. My mother was a victim and I was also many years ago," said Andom, who later escaped a violent relationship of her own.
"You feel like they're going to change, so you leave and you go back, leave and go back. I probably did that 4 or 5 times," said Andom. "It took a while to say enough was enough."
She left her abuser with $20 and stayed on a family member's couch while she thought of her next move. Later business opportunities brought her to Denver. Andom went on to become a successful entrepreneur, spending 24 years owning McDonald's franchisees - three inside Denver International Airport. The businesswoman is now retired, but a survivor never quits.
"I have been blessed over the years and I just knew I had to give back. I realized I could be a part of something to help another 8-year-old girl who could be going through something like this," said Andom.
She collaborated with the City of Denver and Mayor Michael Hancock to create the Rose Andom Center. Her million dollar donation helped fund her dream of creating a resource center for victims.
"Their best days are ahead of them. Let's get them through what they're going through today and look ahead," said Andom.
The Rose Andom Center provides victims with access to services, community organizations and government agencies in a single location. While the Denver Police Department's Domestic Violence unit operates inside, victims are not required to report their abuse to law enforcement to receive help.
Executive Director Margaret Abrams says victims often feel overwhelmed just finding the first step toward a safer life.
"They can get help with applications for public benefits, for civil and legal services, help with getting a protection order. There are representatives from the District Attorney's office," said Abrams.
There's also playroom at Rose Andom Center that gives children a safe space, while their parents search for their own.
If you or someone you love could benefit from their services, visit roseandomcenter.org. If you are in a crisis or need immediate help, dial 911 or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or TTY (800) 787−3224
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