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Gabby Petito's father presents $15,000 donation to SafeSpace Florida

New domestic violence shelter being built in Vero Beach
Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, presents a $15,000 donation to SafeSpace Florida on Jan. 7, 2022.jpg
Posted at 1:17 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 19:08:08-05

VERO BEACH, Fla. — The father of Gabby Petito, a Florida woman whose disappearance and death sparked national attention late last year, wants to help domestic violence victims on the Treasure Coast find the critical help they need.

Joseph Petito presented a $15,000 donation on Friday to SafeSpace Florida, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims find shelter and resources.

Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, presents a $15,000 donation to SafeSpace Florida on Jan. 7, 2022.jpg
Joseph Petito, father of Gabby Petito, presents a $15,000 donation to SafeSpace Florida on Jan. 7, 2022.

The money came, in part, from the Gabby Petito Foundation, which was created to aid domestic violence victims around the country.

Joseph Petito was on hand Friday to view construction on a new SafeSpace shelter in Vero Beach.

"This is amazing. It really is outstanding," Petito said. "I can't believe the work that's gotten done since I was here last."

INTERVIEW WITH JOSEPH PETITO:

Interview with Joe Petito

Petito said the shelter will likely open by the end of the month and will offer victims and their families private space to recover.

"This is a traumatic event that happens to these individuals. And to have so many people, you don't really want that all the time," Petito said. "So to have your private space that you can go to and really, just, cry, process, go through the range of emotions that happen. Cause it's a lot."

SafeSpace Florida will not only provide shelter for victims, but food, clothing, therapy, financial guidance, and job placement services.

"At the end of the day, it is a refuge to do good and help people move forward. And that's the goal," Petito said.

Gabby Petito vanished in September while on a cross-country trip with her fiancé Brian Laundrie. Her body was found on Sept. 19 in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest. A coroner said she had been strangled to death.

Weeks later, Laundrie's skeletal remains were discovered in the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Southwest Florida on Oct. 20. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.

Joseph Petito said the goal of the Gabby Petito Foundation is to raise awareness about missing persons and domestic violence.

"600,000 people a year go missing. Most are found. But the ones that aren't need help," Petito said. "These are issues that affect everyone. There's not an economic level that it doesn't affect."

For more information about SafeSpace Florida, click here. For details about the Gabby Petito Foundation, click here.