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Mission Beach women help survivors of domestic violence write their own story

The Cardonistas meet each week to hand-paint greeting cards so domestic violence survivors have a way to write messages.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Feeling isolated during the pandemic, a group of 10 Mission Beach women got together to call themselves the "Cardonistas."

“We are women who formed a circle and that circle can get as big you want it to be and you can be a part of it too,” said Jeannie Mershon, Cardonista.

The "Cardonistas" circled back to helping survivors of domestic violence break their own isolation and write their own story with hand painted greeting cards.

“Anything that makes a person smile, anything that reminds them what kindness is,” said Mershon.

The cards are available at no cost at the Center for Community Solutions  (CCS), a nonprofit that provides free social services such as legal assistance, counseling, and shelter to survivors of relationship and sexual violence.

“These kinds of cards really they have a connection to these survivor that helps feel normal, they can have a connection to have a celebration, starting new traditions, having a card to celebrate,” said Jenna Pinkham, Director of Housing and Advocacy Services at CCS.

Often survivors of domestic violence arrive at the Center with only the clothes on their back and no money.

“This is a way to really have someone say, 'I've got your back, I believe in what you are doing, I believe you,'” said Pinkham.

A "hello" card can be a way for survivors to write down their thoughts to someone meaningful along their journey.

“Cards say things from our hearts,” said Mershon.

No matter your age, you can still appreciate the written word.

“The part I love the most is the idea that the children will be able to get a card for their mom,” said Angela Sharrett, Cardonista. “And say how proud they are.”

Each week the makeshift studio moves to another Cardonistas home, some are experienced artists, and some are dipping their brush in the paint for the first time in a long time.

“We have different levels, we are learning,” said Mershon.

Each card is carefully and colorfully painted.

“A card is a keepsake it's like a gift,” said Mershon.

With each stroke of the brush the Cardonistas are helping survivors write their new story.

You have a whole community that what these cards say,” said Mershon.

The Cardonistas hope other neighbors will start their own group and help survivors of domestic violence. 

Center for Community Solutions says you can also help by donating, clothes, socks, underwear and as they approach the holiday season gift cards are needed.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego County DA Office beefs up resources for domestic violence victims (October 2021)

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