Local shelter marks anniversary with star power

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After 30 years of helping victims of physical, mental and sexual abuse, the Rockland Family Shelter will celebrate its accomplishments Saturday in the company of Hollywood stars.

Oscar-winning actress Ellen Burstyn first joined the effort of helping women in abusive relationships after she saw a man punching a woman in the face in the middle of a supermarket. Burstyn says she brought a police officer to the scene hoping he would arrest the man, but was stunned by his reaction.

"The man turned around to the policeman and said, 'she's my wife,' and the policeman said, 'oh,' and turned to me and said, 'it?s his wife,'" Burstyn recalls.

This weekend, Burstyn and other Rockland County celebrities like Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in the movie "Grease," will help the organization to raise money for victims of abuse while celebrating 30 years of service to the community.

"Everything is about caring, giving support and love for an individual who has been abused," Conn says.

The shelter provides domestic violence programs, sexual trauma recovery and legal assistance to approximately 350 families a month. The actresses say they cannot help but support a place where victims of abuse can get a fresh start.

The 30th anniversary celebration will take place at Riverspace in Nyack on Saturday. Other celebrities who are scheduled to attend the event include Lorraine Brocco and Rosie Perez.

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