When Barbara Marshall and her two sons, Brandon and Marcus, fled to an emergency shelter to protect themselves after her ex-husband broke into their house, they saw the array of personal and emotional impacts that domestic violence can cause.
"I think it can make you shut down," Barbara Marshall said. "You can just totally shut down and withdraw. I did see that, too, in the shelter. There were some women, they just sat in the corner and they didn't interact with anyone."
The Marshalls spent 26 days in the shelter 16 years ago with about 30 other women and 60 children. The shelter provided food and safety, but lest they put themselves at risk, those at the shelter had to live secluded lives, unable to tell people where they were. It was an experience that stuck with all of them.
"It's cold in the aspect of there's a lot battered people in there, emotional or emotionless people,"
Barbara Marshall and her children grew stronger since those hard times. She instilled in them a perseverance and a dedication. Brandon is now a linebacker for the Broncos, having battled his way from the bottom up into a key role on the defense, and Marcus is now a social worker.
So they all came together on Tuesday wanting to give warmth in more than one way to those who have gone through or are going through the same situation Marshall and his family faced, especially with winter weather here in Denver. So he partnered up with McDonald's and Bailey's Moving & Storage to hold a clothing drive to collect coats and winter clothing for survivors of domestic violence.
"Anything I could do to help or anything that we could do to keep their spirits up is a big plus," Marshall said. "It'll mean a lot, because they might not have access to a coat. There's some nice stuff in here and for them to get new clothes, a new jacket, a new shirt, new shoes, I think it'll mean a lot to them and lift their spirits up."
People drove in to the parking lot at the McDonald's on West Colfax Avenue to drop off their clothes, which filled up big boxes quickly, and the Marshalls eagerly thanked them with photos, autographs or simply a conversation.
The clothing drive, which benefitted the Rose Andom Center—Colorado's first family justice center and what will be an enormous resource for survivors of domestic violence in many facets—also got a very prominent visitor with Denver's Mayor Michael Hancock swinging by to show his support. Hancock, whose sister Karen died from domestic violence, has been motivated to address the issue and support survivors.
The Rose Andom Center plans to open its doors this summer, acting as a hub for over a dozen public and private agencies to offer vital services to domestic violence survivors, and Hancock couldn't be happier to see it so close to fully operating status.
"We've been working on this for so long, and to finally make the progress that we can begin to see the end of the road coming, at least in terms of opening the doors for the first time," Hancock said, "that's an exciting point. We want to get to the point where we're serving people as opposed to raising money for the center."
The center, named for Denver entrepreneur, McDonald's franchise owner and domestic violence survivor Rose Andom, partnered up with the Broncos, who helped fund the center and will collaborate with the center in the future. In addition to the clothing drive, Marshall also helped just a little bit more on Tuesday, giving Andom a personal check to help the center gather resources going forward.
"For those of us who really don't think too much about it because we can afford to go buy a new coat when we need one, it's hard to describe to someone who doesn’t have the need, how important it is to have warm clothing, warm coats in the wintertime," Andom said.
For Brandon Marshall and his mother, the clothing drive was a way for them to connect with and help people who were in their situation 16 years ago and just need something to let them know people care and want to support them in difficult times.
"It would just make them feel special," Barbara Marshall said. "You're going through a dark time. It's hard. And to receive a gift, someone thought about you. When you feel like you're all alone, then to receive a gift like that, it's awesome. It's a great feeling."
And this time of year, it's all the more important to get someone out of the cold, inside and out.