In support of domestic violence victims faced with creating a ‘new normal’
New Hope For Women was founded 34 years ago in Rockland by four domestic violence survivors, all of whom were women, to help others similarly affected.
Since the first employee was hired in 1981, New Hope For Women's has the awesome responsibility of serving women, children, pets (yes pets are often victims of domestic violence), and men in four counties: Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Knox and Waldo.
Fundraising is an essential part of NHFW's work to continue programs.
Programs include: school-based prevention and intervention; education seminars and training; awareness initiatives such as the poignant Empty Seat at the Table memorial; Time For Change, a certified, 48-week education program for men who abuse their partners (and children); education for victims and the public about the various types of domestic violence, from bullying in schools to teen dating violence to LGBT abuse, elder abuse, animal abuse and stalking; and the operation of a 24-hour hotline, 1-800-522-3304.
On June 18 at The Boardroom in Boothbay Harbor, 25 women movers and shakers attended a fundraiser with a special guest speaker, Ann LePage, the first lady of Maine. Thanks to these women, just under $5,000 was raised in support of NHFW's continued efforts.
“Domestic violence is an issue that most often lives in silence, but people want to, and need to talk about it,” Kristi Braun, NHFW’s development director said in her opening remarks. “By attending this event, you are showing an understanding of the prevalence of this problem, and you are lending a voice to every victim who has been silenced by a controlling partner.
“Tonight is one of the rare opportunities to put the issue of domestic violence in the spotlight, and I thank you all for making this possible.”
In addition to being a fundraiser for NHFW, it was an evening to “celebrate strong women leaders and the positive change in our society that they can effect.”
Dawn Gilbert, a longtime mover and shaker in the Boothbay region and attendee, organized LePage's visit.
LePage addressed the group by talking about the “things in life that change us forever.”
“No matter who you are or where you come from, the opportunity to carve out a new normal for yourself exists and sometimes is critical for your survival,” said LePage.
Maine’s first lady shared her experience creating the “new normal” when she and her husband, Gov. Paul LePage, moved to the Blaine House.
“When I became first lady and was told I would have to play a public role, I was petrified. I was a soccer mom; I preferred to be in the snack shack hidden from view,” LePage said. “It’s not like they give you a playbook on how to be Maine’s first lady when you move into the Blaine House.”
LePage spoke of her commitment to support and assist the men and women of the U.S. military returning home and the new normal they must find as they transition back into their families and communities.
LePage works to ensure these courageous Mainers know about the existing resources designed to help them, offer any guidance and give them hope.
After accepting Gilbert’s invitation to speak at the NHFW event, LePage said she researched the support and resources NHFW provides victims of domestic violence, who courageously take action and remove themselves and children from abuse and must create their own “new normal.”
“They have survived their own war and need to become empowered so they can become strong and independent mothers, sisters, daughters and community members,” LePage said. “And to those women who are desperately trying to find the courage and strength to leave one life behind for the hope of a better one, I want to pass along this one message: It can be done. You are worth it.
“And with a little help along the way — you will create your own new normal and you will thrive.”
After the first lady's enthusiastically received speech, Braun said LePage's closing comments (paragraph above) resonated with the group.
“Mrs. LePage's closing comments really resonated with all of us,” said Braun. “She did such a wonderful job. We were thrilled to have her here — and thrilled to have had the response from the incredible women who attended and their support of New Hope For Women.”
Plans for a similar fundraising event to be held next year was already part of the conversation for Tom Myette, owner of The Boardroom, as 2015’s event was coming to a close.
For more on New Hope For Women, and its satellite offices in Bath, Belfast and Wiscasset, visit www.newhopeforwomen.org.