Freeman Center grateful for community turnout
To the editor:
Experiencing domestic violence and sexual assault is not only dangerous but often isolating, but Walk a Mile in Her Shoes once again provided the Berkshires with a terrific opportunity to show how much support there is in this community for not only the clients of Elizabeth Freeman Center, but the survivors we have yet to meet and those who will never become either victim or abuser because of the prevention work we are able to do in the schools.
In a perfect world, we will go out of business some day because we will no longer be needed, but in the meantime we served 3,445 people across the county last year on our hotline, in our shelter, in our offices, in police stations and the courts, in hospitals, and doing prevention work in area schools.
During this sixth Walk a Mile, over 650 people joined the walk to end rape and gender based violence in our community! The first walk in 2011 raised $15,000. This year's goal was $50,000 but you helped us exceed that amount. Cheered on by the mayors of both Pittsfield and North Adams, Pittsfield's state representative and police chief, the district attorney and his staff, the spoken words of Regi Wingo, and the music of Andy Kelly and the Jazz Ambassadors, we took to North Street during the last Third Thursday of the season in a walk that culminated in raising over $61,000.
This year's top fundraiser in the individual category was John Healy (over $1,500) and the top fundraising team was Berkshire Community College (over $2,600). Haddad showed incredible team spirit by sending a team of more than 60 dressed in a Walk a Mile T-shirt of their own design.
Our walkers included the very young, the very old, members of diverse racial and ethnic groups, those who have survived personal experiences of violence and those whose experience is less personal. And while the money we raise is vitally important in ensuring that EFC can continue to provide services, make no mistake — each year when we take to the street, Walk a Mile demonstrates and fuels growing community awareness, unity and partnerships that make our work stronger and will make our community safer.
All of us at Elizabeth Freeman Center, our clients, staff, board, and volunteers, want to thank you for making this such an incredibly powerful and successful event. We'll be looking for you next September when we hope to have even more walkers, teams and money raised, and an even greater show of community support.
Jane Lawless, Janis Broderick, Pittsfield Jane Lawless is board president and Janis Broderick is executive director of the Elizabeth Freeman Center.