Domestic Violence Crisis Center: Gift is a tribute to a beloved son

Wilton families scarred by domestic violence may now be assisted through a fund established this month by Marge Nickel in memory of her late son, Mark.

This legacy — the Mark Nickel Fund for Wilton Families Impacted by Domestic Violence — will be used to support services provided by the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in Norwalk and Stamford. The center serves a number of towns, including Wilton.

“He was a wonderful young man, compassionate, wonderful to his mother and his friends,” Ms. Nickel said, recalling her son. “They miss him terribly. I miss him terribly.”

Mr. Nickel died in 2011 at age 39, after a long battle with alcohol addiction.

Those who knew him will remember him as a “phenomenal athlete,” his mother said, excelling in sports as diverse as swimming, tennis, football, golf, and lacrosse. He was a standout in lacrosse, attracting the attention of coaches in the East, South and Midwest, his mother said.

“He went to Johns Hopkins, where he was No. 1 in scoring and assists.”

Tragically, Ms. Nickel lost her daughter Melissa in 1985. There are several tributes to Melissa in Wilton, Ms. Nickel said, but none to Mark.

Ms. Nickel, who has split her time between Wilton and Florida, said, “When I’m here it’s at the forefront in my mind. This summer I was determined to do it.”

Ms. Nickel chose to support the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC) after hearing about the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force. Task Force Chairperson Jennifer McNamara told Ms. Nickel of the center’s services.

Domestic violence, Ms. Nickel said, “has been a very sensitive issue behind closed doors. It is very damaging to children and to spouses.”

The center, she said, “just needs help. I went there to visit because 20 years ago they didn’t have anything like this, and 40 years ago they certainly didn’t have anything.”

It was a worthy cause through which to honor her son.

With a permanent move to Florida imminent, Ms. Nickel donated hundreds of household items to the center’s safe house in Norwalk.

“DVCC is a wonderful agency that provides so many needed services — safe houses, counseling, legal, and many more,” she said. “Like any nonprofit, it needs constant attention, and I encourage everyone to support it.”

Rachelle Kucera Mehra, executive director at the crisis center, said everyone at the agency is overwhelmed by Ms. Nickel’s gift.

“Her generosity brings to mind Mother Teresa’s observation that ‘intense love does not measure, it just gives,’” she said. “Marge not only speaks to the unshakable love of a mother for her children, but also beautifully demonstrates how pain becomes strength.

“Her concern for those living in abusive relationships and her quiet determination to do something about it will go a long way toward providing assistance to the more than 100 families from the Wilton community who seek our services each year.”

With a professional staff of 45 people who have years of experience and advocacy in the field of domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, the agency offers confidential services at no charge, including court and legal services, group and individual counseling, safe houses 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 serves the communities of Stamford, Norwalk, Westport, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, and Weston. Information: 203-588-9100 or

Donations to the Mark Nickel Fund for Wilton Families Impacted by Domestic Violence may be made by check, credit card or online, or call 203-588-9100 for more information.