Telling tales for violence prevention

“Ardis, Do You Have a Story for Us?” a collection of favorite Ardis Morrow jokes.

POULSBO — The Poulsbo-North Kitsap Rotary Club meets for breakfast each Friday morning.

And each Friday morning, on their agenda is the same question:

“Ardis, do you have a story for us?”

And she certainly does.

Ardis Morrow, an 82-year-old Rotary club member and advocate working against domestic violence, has been entertaining her fellow Rotarians with quirky anecdotes and jokes for years. Now those tales have been compiled to help bring awareness to the issue closest to her heart.

The book, aptly titled “Ardis, Do You Have a Story for Us?,” is not just a collection of Morrow’s favorite crowd-pleasers, but also tells the story of Eli Creekmore, Morrow’s 3-year-old, great-grandnephew who was fatally beaten by his father in 1986.

Since, Morrow has become an expert on the issue as a way to deal with her grief.

“I began to educate myself about the problem and not just in Kitsap County or Washington state but in the world,” she said. “What I found out is that so many victims need so much help.”

She went on to campaign for changes in child protection laws, testify before state legislature and ultimately influence the passing of a law requiring perpetrators, rather than victims, to be removed from their homes.

She also established Eli’s Place, a local transition house for battered women and children that provides a safe haven from domestic abuse.

The book also tells Morrow’s story and includes photos of her, her family and sketches she drew that accompany each anecdote.

While humbly giving credit for the book to Rotarian Marlene Mitchell, who was a major force in developing it, Morrow keeps her focus on the help it can provide.

All proceeds will go to Domestic Violence Prevention.

“If this is going to help anybody get away from a violent controller, then I’m so grateful,” she said.

Rotary Club president Donna Strep said the book is proof positive of the community treasure Morrow is, and though she’s been familiar with Eli’s Story for some time, reading through it once again brought her to tears.

“The whole thing is so moving and compelling,” she said. “People just don’t realize what one person can do to make the world better. It was because of the Eli story, because of the horrible things that happened, that she decided to make a difference, and boy has she.”

A limited number of books will be printed with a special DVD, on which the PBS production, “The Unquiet Death of Eli Creekmore,” can be seen. Footage of Morrow telling her infamous tales will also be included.

Limited edition copies will be sold for $50, regular editions for $20.

The books will be officially for sale on April 19 at the Rotary Club’s annual auction. Books can be reserved now by contacting the North Kitsap Herald at (360) 779-4464.

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