Woman’s club raises $44,000 to fight domestic violence

At the Wilton Woman’s Club’s fashion show fund-raiser this year are, from left, Sue Steitz, Jodi Meyer, Margaret Mazer Ogdon, Victoria Madden, Suzy Curtice, Jen Toll, Lorraine Winsor, Joanna Copley, BJ Bralower, and E. Chambers. — Peggy Garbus Photography
At the Wilton Woman’s Club’s fashion show fund-raiser this year are, from left, Sue Steitz, Jodi Meyer, Margaret Mazer Ogdon, Victoria Madden, Suzy Curtice, Jen Toll, Lorraine Winsor, Joanna Copley, BJ Bralower, and E. Chambers. — Peggy Garbus Photography

The Wilton Woman’s Club raised $44,000 for the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force and the Domestic Violence Crisis Center through its 11th Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon earlier this year. Club co-presidents Jen Toll and Lorraine Winsor said, “We could not be more proud of this wonderful, giving community. Our attendees and auction donors heard about the valuable work that these DV groups do for women, men, and children, and they gave from the heart.”

The crisis center, headquartered in Stamford and Norwalk, provides safehouses, crisis intervention, safety planning, counseling, child services, 24/7 Spanish-speaking services, legal advocacy, and Peaceworks education and prevention programs in schools. It staffs a hotline 24 hours for calls and questions related to domestic violence: 1-888-774-2900. It has also formed local grassroots task forces in Weston, Wilton, Darien, New Canaan, and Westport.

The Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force promotes awareness of domestic violence in Wilton, distributes information, and provides educational programs in schools to teach children about respectful and equal relationships. After traffic-related activities, Wilton police say that domestic-related investigations are one of the more frequent calls they are involved in here, across all demographics of income, race, age, and gender.

Last year, the crisis center provided the equivalent of $350,000 worth of services to Wilton residents, including legal aid and counseling, according to executive director Kevin Shippy.

“We are so grateful for the incredible generosity of the Wilton Woman’s Club and feel very lucky to live in a town with such magnanimous people,” said task force president Jennifer McNamara, who will be honored at the crisis center’s annual luncheon on May 24. “The task force has already begun to collaborate with school administrators who were very excited at the prospect of having a motivational speaker such as Jackson Katz and/or Jeff Bucholtz to address students, faculty and staff at Middlebrook and the high school.

“This will be followed by programming we will be able to provide as a result of this generous donation, which will educate our boys and girls so that they will be able to challenge and eradicate gender stereotypes, recognize the cultural factors that contribute to the abuses of power, and be proficient in recognizing what constitutes a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one.”

The club’s philanthropy committee, led by co-chairs Mariann Bigelow and Dianne deWitt, were responsible for choosing this year’s beneficiary.

Their choice was prompted by “all the revelations of sexual abuse and misconduct, particularly against women, being publicized now,” deWitt said. “And the only real way to create a cultural shift away from this behavior is to educate our children, and that is the large part of our giving this year,” Bigelow said.

The club welcomes new members to join when its new year begins June 1. Information: wiltonwomansclub.org.

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