Losing a family member or friend is never easy, especially if that person suffered a violent death at the hands of their own spouse — the person who took a vow to always cherish their spouse.
Trying to make sense of it all is something that stays with you for the rest of your life. Steve Baginski, 2023 GCA president, knows that feeling all too well. His wife, Kaleo, a respected construction industry professional, had a sister, just three years older than her, who was stabbed to death by her own husband shortly after moving to the mainland with him.
“My kids were so close to Kaleo’s sister, who was living in Hawaii at the time. She was their #1 aunty. I feel that the ripple effect created when someone loses their life in such a violent manner is much deeper than a normal loss. This feeling of loss touches so many people around you that it’s hard to imagine."
This year marks the 11th anniversary of that fateful incident, and only last year, Kaleo was able to publicly share about her sister’s tragic death as a keynote speaker at the Domestic Violence Action Center’s conference. It has been hard for everyone who knew Kaleo’s sister.
“My kids were so close to Kaleo’s sister, who was living in Hawaii at the time,” said Steve. “She was their #1 aunty,” he said. “I feel that the ripple effect created when someone loses their life in such a violent manner is much deeper than a normal loss. This feeling of loss touches so many people around you that it’s hard to imagine. I still get emotional just by thinking about her and how she is missed by so many.”
As a way to honor his sister-in-law and other victims of domestic violence, Steve has been personally committed to supporting the Domestic Violence Action Center, a nonprofit organization that offers a spectrum of services for those suffering from domestic violence. These services include a hotline for urgent help, including temporary shelter at “secret locations” for those who need to immediately get away from a dangerous spouse and out of harm’s way. Steve recently participated in DVAC’s Men’s March to show his support of this important cause.
Steve said in the case of his sister-in-law, there were “no warning signs” that offered any insights that something was amiss. He also said although he does not hear about domestic violence incidents from those within the construction industry, it does not mean it is not a problem.
“People don’t talk about it because they may be ashamed, but from the growing number of people requiring assistance from DVAC, there is a great need out there,” Steve said. “As more support DVAC, the nonprofit agency can serve more people and save lives. That’s why it’s so important to me to support DVAC. I want to do whatever it takes so others don’t have to suffer the pain and loss that my family experienced due to domestic violence.”
As GCA president this year, Steve has chosen the Domestic Violence Action Center as the beneficiary of this year’s Give Back to the Community program. Please go to the GCA’s donor page to make a contribution to help us reach our $50,000 fundraising goal. For those GCA members who have already given, mahalo! For more information, visit DVAC’s website.