Safe Homes Taps New Director

By Oliver Mackson Times Herald-Record

Newburgh – Orange County’s leading advocacy group for battered women has a new executive director for the second time in about three months.

Michele McKeon, a Blooming Grove native, was named executive director of the Orange County Safe Homes Project last week. Aida Rivera, who was appointed in September, resigned for personal reasons, Safe Homes board president Clare Brady said in a prepared statement.

Rivera couldn’t be reached for comment.

McKeon, 35, has worked for Safe Homes for about five years. She’s been the director of the organization’s shelter and was most recently its associate executive director.

Safe Homes is a not-for-profit entity with a $700,000 budget and 23 employees. Its purpose has been made starkly evident over the past month.

On Nov. 11, Vicky Godinez of Port Jervis was stabbed to death. Within a day, city police had charged her former boyfriend with murder. And last week, Suzanne Timmoney of Monroe was found dead in her apartment. Her ex-boyfriend, a 56-year-old career criminal named Robert Elliott, was charged with killing her.

Safe Homes advocates also stood by Mary Ann Quirk of Montgomery in Orange County Court last month, when she testified against her ex-boyfriend, Paul Hanson.

Hanson, who had been stalking Quirk, was convicted of a felony contempt of court charge for violating an order of protection.

“It certainly reminds us, and the community, how important Safe Homes is in Orange County,” McKeon said. “We have a mandate now: We will not tolerate the killing of women in O.C.”

McKeon expects Safe Homes to play a role next year when a new domestic violence court opens in Orange County. The court is intended to consolidate criminal, civil and family proceedings in some domestic violence cases.

Both sides in a domestic disputes often find their anger and frustration exacerbated by having to appear in different courts, on different days, to settle a divorce, a criminal case and a child custody dispute that all came out of the same domestic conflict.


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