Redefining violence against women at AVDA’s fundraiser

Supporters were glad to be back in person at AVDA’s 14th annual Heart of a Women luncheon.

The silent auction was carefully outdoors, with a view of the marina at Royal Palm Yacht Club. The adjoining room looked lovely, outfitted in pale lavender, from round table centerpieces to pashminas on every seat.

But AVDA’s the only local agency with a shelter and programs like a 24/7 hotline for victims of domestic violence. The pandemic locked down victims with perpetrators. So, calls for help and AVDA’s shelter were so maxed out, the agency had to put people up in hotels, said president/CEO Pam O’Brien.

That news gave the fundraiser a new urgency. And keynote speaker Dr. Jackson Katz proposed a new way of approaching sexual violence he hopes will change everything.

A recognized influencer and activist, his latest TED talk, “Violence Against Women is a Men’s Issue,’ Jackson has more than 2.5 million views in 27 languages. [See the link at the end of this story.] His ‘bystander approach” focuses out changing the culture by calling out bad male behavior and “reframing sexual violence.” Women have been leading this issue for 50 years, he said. “We need awareness leading to action. The only way to turn the corner is if more men join women already doing this work.”

He noted the new generation of women AVDA honored at this event as the largest team at their Race for Hope and for spreading the message of violence-free behavior in teen relationships. Led by students at Pinecrest and St. Andrews schools, the S.A.V.E. Club stands for Stop Abuse and Violence Everywhere. Siena Guarini and other club leaders attended and showed a video.

AVDA also honored well-known and respected Helen Babione for her decades of volunteerism and philanthropy in Boca. That’s her picture with Rosemary Krieger, another Boca philanthropist with Ben and an AVDA activist. Boca supporters also included the luncheon’s co-chairs Anne Vegso and Dr. Heidi Schaeffer, who bravely told her own story. The shelter is Casa Vegso.

Among other Boca benefactors attending were Marta Batmasian and Elizabeth Dudley. Sponsors included Boca’s Schmidt Family Foundation and Boca-based businesses including Office Depot and NCCI Holdings, represented by AVDA’s board chair Vicky Mayen.

Delray Beach Police Chief Javaro Sims, on AVDA’s board, was there with a table of officers in uniform. Kim and Roy Balance were the first to pledge in AVDA’s call to the heart donations.

“This past year, there was an increase in domestic violence reported,” said CBS12 anchor Liz Quirantes, who emceed, citing AVDA’s “lifesaving services.”

Here’s Katz’s TED Talk link:

By Marci Shatzman


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