The 2016 Charlottesville Design House opened this past Saturday! For those of you who don’t know, the proceeds from the Design House benefit the Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE), a local non-profit whose mission is to end domestic violence in our community. Now in its 7th year, the Design House is fortunate to have so many area designers donate their time and talent to this important cause.

As for Robert and myself, our connection to SHE goes back more than 20 years, when I first became a volunteer and then a full-time employee from 1995 to 1999. During the years I worked at the Shelter, Robert and I rented a cottage in Afton, VA and lived next door to our landlords. Heidi, Stephen and their teenage daughters became like family to us, and although we lost touch after we moved closer to town and they moved out of state, we were thrilled several years later, when Robert was asked to photograph the wedding of their oldest daughter, Justine. It was so wonderful to reconnect at the wedding and to introduce them to our daughter, Eden, who was just two years old. Imagine our shock several months later, when we received a call that Justine had been killed in a hit and run accident. Our hearts were completely broken.

The investigation into Justine’s death soon became national headlines and the story appeared on television programs like Primetime and Dateline. Local journalist, Courteney Stuart spent years covering the story for The Hook. In time we learned that Justine was not killed in a random hit and run accident. She was murdered by her husband of 6 months and in 2012 he was sentenced to life in prison. There are no words to adequately describe the devastation Justine’s family feels daily over the loss of their daughter/sister. She was loved deeply by her family, friends, colleagues and her little kindergarten students to whom she was a devoted teacher. The ripple effect of her tragic death is immense. Those of us who knew her, are changed forever by the knowledge that domestic violence can happen to anyone, of any socioeconomic status, of any race, and gender. It does not discriminate.

Programs like Shelter for Help in Emergency provide vital services to our community. For Robert and myself, our commitment to supporting the work of SHE became personal in ways we never expected.

For more information about the Design House, please click here: http://cvilledesignhouse.com/

For more information about Shelter for Help in Emergency, please click here: http://www.shelterforhelpinemergency.org/

Now, please enjoy this little sneak peek of the house. Robert spent two days there last week, photographing the beautiful rooms. You will only find vignettes here as we don’t want to give too much away! You’ll have to go yourself to see all the rooms in their full glory.   ~Lauren and Robert Radifera

Robert Radifera PhotographyRobert Radifera PhotographyRobert Radifera PhotographyRobert Radifera PhotographyRobert Radifera PhotographyRobert Radifera Photography

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