"You all were not here by accident today. ... This was a divine appointment."
Indeed, Pamela Richards-Woodall credits the work of God in her life — as well as the support of her husband Gary — with helping turn her life around. Saturday in downtown Somerset, where Richards-Woodall uttered the above words to a crowd at the Pulaski Judicial Plaza, the goal was to help others who are struggling as she did with child abuse.
A Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Awareness Walk and Rally took place downtown on Saturday, held by Broken Pieces No More, a non-profit organization started by Richards-Woodall to focus on those societal scourges.
For Richards-Woodall, it's a deeply personal cause. She shared only part of her story for the crowd, as all of it would have been too graphic for those present to hear, but she herself was abused, molested and trafficked as a youth, which started her down a path of addiction.
"I went through many years of darkness, not knowing freedom," Richards-Woodall told the Commonwealth Journal. "God has led me through this incredible path. I have reached a point where I know that I want to be able to help other people find that freedom."
Today, with the faith-based Broken Pieces No More, a group that began just last year, Richards-Woodall is looking to shine a light on the problem. That includes researching and examining the causes of abuse, developing positive ways to reduce it through connectivity and education, offering resources such as volunteers and funding to reach out into the community, and working with community leaders to bring about change.
"Our kids needs to know that somebody cares," said Richards-Woodall. "Enough is enough."
Richards-Woodall said that Kentucky is at the top of the national rankings for substantiated child abuse cases, as well as ninth in the number of new human trafficking cases.
"That's not cool" she said, later adding, "It breaks my heart knowing that we are at that level."
Around 75 people took part in the event Saturday, which began with a march from the Carnegie Community Arts Center, where Broken Pieces No More is headquartered, to the plaza, with several people holding signs demonstrating their cause against domestic and child abuse.
A number of other individuals spoke and shared their stories, and nationally-performing singer and impressionist Kevin Adams.
Richards-Woodall was pleased with the turnout on Saturday.
"With this event, we've gained about 10 solid volunteers, which is fantastic," she said. "... I am very pleased (with the crowd). Of course you always want more, but this is our first (rally)."