When Frank Dodd heard that Kim Baucom Conover had been shot and killed by her husband, who then killed himself, the news was both shocking and terribly familiar.
"It hit me like a ton of bricks," said the Luma Restaurant sous chef. "I couldn't even move." But he knew he had to do something.
Part of Dodd's horror stemmed from memories of his own childhood, and the rest from the role that Conover had played in his life.
In 1981, two weeks before Dodd entered eighth grade in Petaluma, his father killed his mother and then committed suicide. His parents had been divorced twice at the time; his father lived in Arizona and his mother was engaged to another man.
"Her wedding was getting close, and she called my dad up to have what she called &‘the perfect last weekend as a family'. We rode bikes and spent time together, and then at the end he killed her and then himself," said Dodd. "The whole thing was so weird and awful. One minute we were hanging out and the next, it was all over."
In an ironic and heartbreaking twist, Dodd said that one person in particular helped him get through those first few months after it happened — his girlfriend, Kim Baucom.
"When we were young, Kim had such an attentive ear and was always so happy - she was a strength to be around during such a difficult time," Dodd said. "To have the exact same thing happen to her was just so hard to believe."
When Dodd learned of Conover's murder, he immediately knew he wanted to help. He met with Trisha Almond, CEO of Guided to Safety — a local organization to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault - and said he wanted to begin an educational program for teens in relationships and a charity for the Conover children, to be funded by a portion of the proceeds from his new Cold Shoulder Ice Cream business.
Dodd's business is starting out small but enthusiastically - so far, he's raised about $1,000 by pedaling an ice cream cart while not working at Luma.
Almond said she was thrilled with the idea and sees the opportunity as a great starting point.
"The educational program we are focusing on is for teens because we want to teach them what a healthy relationship is, before they hit adulthood," she said.
Almond added that 54 percent of parents are unaware of the potential for relationship violence for their kids, especially when the parents are in a great relationship themselves: "They think they're setting a great example — and they are — but that doesn't mean anything."
While kids are educated frequently on sexually transmitted diseases, Almond pointed out that teens are more prone to be a victim of teen relationship violence than they are to contract STDs.
Dodd, whose parents never talked with him about healthy relationships, feels that education can never be taught too early. He said that his experiences as a child have made him wary of parenthood.
"My dad was an alcoholic so I have always avoided alcohol. I've never been violent because of what I saw," said Dodd. "But the childhood I had made me petrified to have kids of my own. I would never want to make any of the mistakes that my parents made."