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Hope from Tragedy - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Hope from Tragedy

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Laura Winterbottom Laura Winterbottom
March 2005 March 2005
March 2005 March 2005
JoAnn Winterbottom JoAnn Winterbottom

Burlington, Vermont - September 4, 2008

"She was so filled with energy, energy and enthusiasm, and it was contagious," JoAnn Winterbottom says of her daughter, Laura. "I miss that. I miss that."

JoAnn says Laura loved Vermont, loved the outdoors, and loved her job: teaching art to kids.

"If a child or children were present, she would get on the floor with them at their level and play with them," JoAnn says.

But Laura's life was cut short.

In March 2005, the 31-year-old woman was kidnapped, raped, and murdered in Burlington.

"The mourning doesn't stop. There's no point at which it has stopped or do I anticipate it will ever stop," JoAnn says.

She channeled her anger and sorrow into action, starting the Laura Kate Winterbottom Memorial Fund.

The organization helps local charities and its latest project is Laura's Room: a safe space for victims and their children at the Women's Rape Crisis Center in Burlington.

"This is a good place. This is a place that Laura would like," JoAnn says.

"That's what survivors and their families need during a moment of crisis, that space that feels private and safe and welcoming at the same time and Laura's Room supplies that," says Elle Petcavage, of the Women's Rape Crisis Center.

The Memorial Fund will help WRCC pay for many things, including renovations to the room, toys, and children's books.

The room will be used for counseling, exams, and support group meetings; at a time when the crisis center has seen a 25-percent increase in people seeking services.

Money raised at the upcoming Laura's Walk will also support the project.

"The community was affected by Laura in so many ways in her life, even more so than in her tragedy. This is a way to further her memory," Petcavage says, "to further her passion for children."

Her mom says Laura was a bit shy and not one for the spotlight, but she's certain Laura would be honored.

"I could see her observing in the background with a smile of approval," JoAnn says. "In her quiet way she would be pleased and proud."

Laura's Walk will take place this coming Saturday at Oakledge Park in Burlington. Proceeds will also help Women Helping Battered Women, which supplies so-called "Laura's Kits" to elementary students. The kits hold games, books and art projects that help teach kids how to deal with emotions surrounding violence and how to end the cycle.

Click here for more on Laura's Walk and the Laura Kate Winterbottom Memorial Fund.

Darren Perron - WCAX News

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