Downtown businesses to donate funds in memory of slain child

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- As first reported at albanyherald.com, two new downtown businesses have decided to give 10 percent of their proceeds during April to the LilyPad abuse center in memory of a 19-month-old Albany girl beaten to death this week.

Janaysia Stevenson died this week after investigators say she was beaten to death. Her mother and the mother's boyfriend have been charged in the case.

In what store officials at Verge and DTown General Store say is an effort to draw attention to domestic and children abuse, the two stores will give 10 percent of their monthly draw for April to the LilyPad, which handles child abuse cases for the Dougherty and Southwestern Judicial Circuits.

Verge owner Jessica Blair said Thursday that news of Janayshia's death prompted the business owners to show that "we can't just turn a blind eye" to domestic violence and child abuse in our


"We just felt like, in our hearts, that we needed to do our part, to help stop that (child abuse) and to raise awareness," Blair said. "So for this month...we'll be giving our 10 percent to the LilyPad in support of them in hopes that we will make a difference in Albany."

Word of the donations was well received at the LilyPad where Amy Boney, a forensic interviewer and regional director of the child abuse centers, wept when she was told by a reporter.

"That kind of generosity from those businesses and the community is what we need to move forward," Boney said. "It's unbelievable that new businesses would give of themselves like that. It's just so moving."

Boney said that in 2010, LilyPad worked cases involving 475 children. Roughly 80 percent were from Dougherty County, while the others were from the five-county Southwestern Judicial Circuit.

Verge and Dtown General store will pick a different charity or non-profit to give proceeds to each month. For March, the two businesses decided to give to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life.

Blair said the LilyPad was on the group's list but wasn't scheduled to be this month's recipient until word of Janayshia's death broke.

Store officials hope the gesture will catch on across town and create a more community-wide push to deal with area social and criminal issues.

"It's something we can't close a blind eye to. These are our friends and our neighbors. It's happening all around us and we all need to reach out and do our part," Blair said.

The funeral service for Janaysia will be at 3 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Metropolitan Baptist Church, with interment in Floral Memory Garden Cemetery. Meadows Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.