There has been so much heartbreak and horror surrounding the Gabby Petito case, but her parents are using their visibility and their daughter’s tragic, fatal tale to bring change for other victims of abuse.
The Gabby Petito Foundation was created “to bring ever lasting change, education and awareness,” according to the Foundation’s Facebook page.
“Good must come out of such tragedy, ‘she touched the world,'” the foundation’s “About” states.
Petito is the North Port, Florida, woman whose disappearance and death last year in a remote camping area in Wyoming sparked attention nationwide. The FBI said Petito, 22, was killed by her fiance, Brian Laundrie, whose body was found in a state park in Florida after a monthlong manhunt. Laundrie’s death was ruled a suicide.
One of the projects the Petito foundation recently helped sponsor, through the SafeSpace organization, was the creation of an emergency shelter for adult victims of domestic violence and their children in Indian River County, Florida.
The area used to have an emergency shelter, but after hurricane damage in the early 2000s, it was closed.
“SafeSpace was originally founded in Indian River County in 1979, and we are immensely grateful to the various community funders and donors who supported the expansion of our programs to now include a 19-bed emergency shelter to service area residents,” SafeSpace CEO Dr. Teresa Albizu said, according to a post by the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office posted.
“The unfortunate reality is that the COVID pandemic is creating an insidious rise in the incidence of domestic violence, and SafeSpace is committed to providing both residential and non-residential services to the hundreds of victims of domestic violence and their children who deserve to live a life free from violence.”
In early January, Joseph Petito, Gabby’s father, presented SafeSpace with a $15,000 check. He visited the shelter being built and was impressed with the progress that had been made.
“This is amazing. It really is outstanding,” Petito said. “I can’t believe the work that’s gotten done since I was here last.”
The shelter opened on Wednesday.
“It’s not what I need. It’s what people need,” an emotional Petito said during the opening, The US Sun reported.
The location of the home understandably is being kept secret, to protect the people who pass through its doors.
“This is a traumatic event that happens to these individuals,” Petito said, according to WPTV-TV. “And to have so many people, you don’t really want that all the time. So to have your private space that you can go to and really, just, cry, process, go through the range of emotions that happen. ‘Cause it’s a lot.
“At the end of the day, it is a refuge to do good and help people move forward. And that’s the goal.”
“Watching people come together — we need to do that for more people,” Petito told WCVB-TV.
He also said this newest partnership has helped him and his family push forward. In the future, though, he hopes their assistance no longer will be needed.
“Our goal is to go out of business,” he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.