2017 MCFJC Foundation Honorees

At our Annual Benefit each year, the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation recognizes those individuals, corporations and community partners who have helped to advance the movement to end domestic violence.

Community Partnership Award

The Richardson Family and Bar-T Camps

Extended Child Care During School Year & Retreat Center For Businesses and Corporations

“Partnering with the MCFJC Foundation came so naturally to me and our team at Bar-T. As a part of our mission, we believe in showing respect and keeping everyone safe. This belief extends beyond the children in our care and the families that we serve. This belief applies to everyone with whom we interact and the communities that we belong to. The final line of our mission statement reads: We help people remember they are of great worth. When it comes to organizations who embrace the same ideals that we hold close, the MCFJC Foundation is a perfect fit. The incredible work that they do for our community treats all people as individuals, they listen, show respect, keep everyone safe, and help people remember they are of great worth. We’re honored to be a part of the Foundation’s work and look forward to continuing our partnership for years to come.” – Rory Richardson

Since its beginning in 1961, generations of families have had the opportunity to experience the benefit of having the Bar-T Ranch family of in our community. From the original camp, they expanded to a second camp, then went on to open more than 30 County locations for extended child care throughout the school year, as well as a retreat center for businesses and corporations.

Caring and respect for the individual remains the Bar-T family’s hallmark and having such a caring partner in the community is a real gift to the MCFJC Foundation.

For all the years that the Foundation had a Silent Auction at our Benefit, the folks from Bar-T donated two weeks of summer camp. Throughout the last several last several years Bar-T leadership has outreached to their staff, friends and family and somehow managed to donate more than 1,000 new teddy bears and stuffed animals for the children who come to the Center for services.

That not being enough, for the last several years they have served on our Benefit Committee, provided volunteers for the day of the benefit, supported our highly successful Purple Purse Campaign, and have offered 10 camp slots to children in our County’s Safe Start program.

For their tremendous partnership in improving the lives of the children in our community, we thank Rory Richardson and her entire Bar-T family.

Community Leadership Award

Debbie Feinstein

Chief of the Special Victims Division of the Montgomery County State’s Attorneys Office

“The incredible work of the Foundation helps my office achieve just outcomes in cases of domestic violence, for example, the Foundation recently funded a special camera that enhances our ability to see injuries under the surface of the skin that are not visible to the naked eye, with this camera we will be able to see the true impact of a criminal act in ways we could not do so before.” – Debbie Feinstein

As Chief of the Special Victims Division of the Montgomery County State’s Attorneys Office, Debbie Feinstein prosecutes all crimes related to domestic violence, elder and vulnerable populations.

Debbie spent the last two years developing the protocol around abusive head trauma, and has become a national go-to expert for individual prosecutors from around the country.

Debbie has been the Chair of the Choose Respect Montgomery Conference since 2015, and served as Chair of the Conference Program Planning Committee from 2013 – 2016. Her tenure saw a substantial increase in attendance, broader outreach efforts, greater presence on social media, and significant buy-in and collaboration from Montgomery County Public Schools. She also spearheaded efforts around revamping the Choose Respect Curriculum presentations in schools, later to be known as “Expect Respect,” leading to the program reaching more students than ever before.

She continues to collaborate with public schools so that more teenagers receive abuse prevention education.

In December 2016, Debbie was elected Chair of the Montgomery County Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team, a multi-disciplinary group that reviews domestic violence-related homicide cases in an effort to prevent these types of fatalities in the future.

In 2017 Debbie was elected Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Domestic Violence Coordinating Counsel.

For these reasons and so many more, Debbie is the recipient of the 2017 MCFJC Foundation Community Leadership Award.

Forerunner Award

Greg Wims

Founder & President of the Victims’ Rights Foundation

“The volunteer work of the Victims’ Rights Foundation is important to me because we are the voice of the people who don’t have representation” – Greg Wims

Since its inception 20 years ago, Greg Wims, Founder and President of the Victims’ Rights Foundation, a non-profit in Montgomery County, has been committed to speak for those who do not have a voice. For 20 years the Victims’ Rights Foundation has been a strong advocate and a voice for domestic violence victims whose life is in danger or whose life was taken by violence.

Their work in the community covers everything from holding prayer vigils to comfort family members of slain or injured victims, to providing burial assistance for victims and their families. They have helped provide funds for professional medical care for victims or their families. They partnered with Women Who Care Ministries and the City of Gaithersburg for a community workshop on domestic violence.

Under Greg’s leadership, the Victims’ Rights Foundation has been committed to working with the Family Justice Center, law enforcement and schools officials to help stem the trend of bullying. They have gifted the MCFJC Foundation a $1,000 a year since our inception and held blanket drives, and teddy bear drives for the benefit of FJC clients.

In 2012 Victims Rights Foundation delivered 100 wheelchairs to policeman for distribution in Ecuador and in 2014 they completed construction of a preschool in Kenya, Africa.

For their 20 years of outstanding dedication to victims of domestic abuse and violent crime, we are honored to present Greg Wims and the Victims’ Rights Foundation with the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation’s 2017 Forerunner Award.

Marilyn J. Praisner Founders Award

John McCarthy

State’s Attorney

From the day it was first discussed, State’s Attorney John McCarthy was in full support of the creation of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center. He attended meetings, spoke out in favor of the Center and sought funding and commitment to the project.

No matter when he was called upon, he jumped in to help at every turn of the way, arranging for important meetings, sharing ideas and suggestions, and when it was time to do so, he re-assigned staff. No doubt John has been a critical partner all along the way.

Throughout his years of service his prosecution initiatives showed his 100% commitment to punishing those responsible for perpetrating domestic violence and abuse. He has continually spoken out about domestic abuse, and in so doing he has brought the issue further out into the open.

For his unwavering commitment to the founding of the Family Justice Center, for his work and effort in seeing its success, and for his commitment to ending domestic violence, the Montgomery County Family Justice Center is honoring is pleased to honor Mr. John McCarthy with its 2017 Marilyn J. Praisner Founders Award.

Foundation Leadership Award

Tom DeGonia

President of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation

“Families in crisis deserve an immediate and comprehensive response. When they are meet at our door that is exactly what they receive. I have personally witnessed how our services change the trajectory of lives. The ability to changes lives, even if it’s one at a time, fuels my passion for the work of the MCFJC Foundation.” – Tom DeGonia

Tom DeGonia began his career at the State’s Attorney’s Office by requesting assignment to the domestic violence docket. This was unusual in the 1990’s. In an office that led the State in its commitment to domestic violence, Tom was a standout.

His commitment to the issue was evident immediately to the staff and advocates in the courtroom. He always listened to the victim’s perspective and tried to incorporate their wishes and safety concerns into the prosecution of his cases.

Even prior to that time, Tom saw a need for a coordinated response to the multiple issues surrounding a domestic violence situation. Tom was a line prosecutor, then a felony trial team leader. After going into private practice, Tom expanded his experience in family law, and continues to help with pro bono cases and has an intimate working knowledge of the court system from both criminal and civil aspects.

In addition to his very busy law practice and his strong family life, Tom assumed the role of the President of the Montgomery County Family Justice Center Foundation. During his tenure Tom has continued to promote both the FJC and the FJC Foundation.

In addition to his board leadership efforts, Tom outreaches to the community by speaking to groups such as Rotary Clubs and a Montgomery College paralegal class, as well meeting with potential board members and those who may want to support the work of the Foundation.

For all these reasons and more, Tom is the recipient of the 2017 MCFJC Foundation Leadership Award.