Hundreds Attend DVCC Voices Of Courage Spring Luncheon
Event Raises More than $145,000 to Help Support DVCC Services and Programs
June 8, 2015
More than 500 people attended the Domestic Violence Crisis Center’s 13th annual Voices of Courage Spring Luncheon on May 14 at the Stamford Marriott Hotel, where three dynamic women regaled them with personal stories, offered historical perspectives and unveiled a new economic empowerment program to support DVCC clients. Keynote speaker Leslie Morgan Steiner described a very personal experience of being trapped, as a young woman, in a marriage of increasing isolation, control and abuse in every form – physical, psychological, emotional and financial – that threatened to destroy her. A businesswoman, writer and author of several books, including Crazy Love, her memoir about the relationship, Steiner said she never would have escaped and recovered from the abuse without the ongoing support of friends, family and members of the community.
Speaker Linda Fairstein told the audience that when she joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s office in 1972, her boss at the time didn’t believe that women should be working in the criminal justice system and he refused to let female ADA’s go into the courtroom. Five years later, Fairstein was named Bureau Chief of the newly-formed Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit and tasked with transforming archaic laws and attitudes into a system that would support and benefit victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Fairstein was there to introduce New Canaan resident Dede Bartlett as the DVCC’s 2015 Voices of Courage honoree. The two women have been friends and colleagues since 1996, when they began an ambitious campaign to bring awareness about domestic violence into the business world. “Dede led the movement to get this issue into the corporate world. She opened doors, opened minds and saved lives,” Fairstein said.
A businesswoman and long-time advocate for victims of domestic violence, Dede Bartlett spoke about her great-great-great-great grandmother, an emancipated slave on the island of St. Croix, who had to figure out how to support herself and her children after being freed. Her ancestor’s sewing skills, resiliency and entrepreneurial spirit enabled her to build a thriving business as a seamstress, and she passed on those skills and survival techniques to subsequent generations.
As with her ancestor, victims of domestic violence also need to achieve financial independence in order to survive, Bartlett said, which led to her introducing a new DVCC initiative, SustainAbilityCT (SCT). The project, which has been in various stages of implementation for more than a year, offers DVCC clients a series of financial workshops, assistance with preparing for and seeking employment and education opportunities, and help with identifying sources of housing. The goal of SCT is to make available the very specific tools clients need to function on their own and to consistently encourage independence and self-confidence as they learn to use those tools. SCT is a “work in progress”, Bartlett noted, but she stressed that economic empowerment is both “crucial and achievable”.
The luncheon raised more than $145,000 that will go towards supporting the comprehensive services and critical programs DVCC provides victims of domestic violence, including court and legal services, group and individual counseling, SafeHouses and SustaInAbilityCT financial advocacy and housing services, children’s services, medical advocacy, professional adult trainings, multilingual services, PeaceWorks prevention education, a 24-hour hotline (1-888-774-2900) and EsperanzaCT, a Spanish language website and 24-hour phone service line. DVCC is the only domestic violence agency serving the communities of Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton and Weston.
In fiscal year 2013 – 2014, DVCC provided shelter to 435 individuals and provided legal, counseling, housing and economic empowerment services to 3,367 unduplicated victims of domestic violence. PeaceWorks, the violence prevention platform of the DVCC, reached 21,000 young people through its in-school programs, PeaceWorkSHOPS afterschool programs and Teen PeaceWorks.
Domestic Violence Crisis Center Contact: Kathy Lake
777 Summer Street Media Relations Advocate
Stamford, CT 06901 Phone: (203) 588-9100
(203) 588-9100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org