Supply drive will benefit domestic violence victims at Sumter's YWCA


A group of young lawyers is working on the other side of domestic violence cases by holding a supply drive for victims, and Sumter's shelter stands to benefit.

The Young Lawyers Division, a group of professionals in the South Carolina Bar Association, is accepting an array of items from Aug. 16 until Sept. 30 throughout the Midlands, Upstate and Lowcountry, from clothing to cleaning supplies to baby products. The Sumter Police Department, 335 N. Lafayette Drive, is the Sumter drop-off location for items to be donated to the YWCA of the Upper Lowlands in Sumter.

Caitlin Lee, a research attorney at Merritt, Webb, Wilson & Caruso PLLC in Columbia and a Sumter native, said the drive is organized by a committee of YLD members called Voices Against Violence, which she said has been going on for years but that this is the first year it is expanding to the Lowcountry and Sumter.

"As clich as this sounds, I wanted to do something to give back. You get wrapped up in work what you have going on, that I forget I can make an impact in other people's lives that isn't just about the courtroom," Lee said.

Domestic violence has been in the Sumter headlines recently with the Aug. 5 death of 29-year-old Sharee Bradley and disappearance of her 5-year-old daughter, Navaeh Adams. A man who has been charged in the woman's death has reportedly told police he killed her and her daughter, whose body has not been found after a week of searching.

The 28-year-old man, Daunte Johnson, had a relationship with Bradley and was wanted in a homicide case in Missouri at the time of his arrest in Sumter.

If Johnson is convicted, Bradley will be one of many women in South Carolina who are killed by someone they know. More than 1,800 women were murdered by men nationwide in 2016 - the most recent year with analyzed data - and South Carolina ranked sixth with a homicide rate of 1.88 per 100,000, according to a September 2018 study from the Violence Policy Center. Of the 44 out of 48 female homicide victims in the state where the relationship between victim and offender could be identified, 95% (42 out of 44) knew each other.

Often when domestic violence victims are able to leave an abusive relationship for a shelter, they can't bring much with them.

The shelter drive, one of the projects the VAV committee runs each year, goes from July to July. VAV was created to educate young lawyers and the public about the "epidemic of domestic violence" and to encourage advocacy for victims through legislative initiative, pro bono service and to provide hands-on support to shelters and other programs aiding victims, according to the S.C. Bar website.

Other initiatives include shelter refurbishment projects and material distribution.

YLD is open to any lawyer in South Carolina who is in good standing with the S.C. Bar and is under 36 years old or has been admitted to the S.C. Bar as their first bar within the past five years. The group also runs a backpack drive and a wills clinic and supports Make-A-Wish and the Special Olympics.

For more information, contact Lee at