Tuesday, May 17, 2011

MAAV Events

Ok so this post is long overdue but better late than never right!  As most of you know by now I'm on the Board of Directors for MAAV.  MAAV is an awesome organization that focuses on education and prevention of teen dating violence, bullying and domestic violence.  I think everyone can relate to at least one of these topics.  It is so important that we all help to end all types of violence and I'm helping through MAAV.

So a couple of weeks ago I went to the Massachusetts State House for the 2011 Victim Rights Event called "Shaping the Future, Honoring the Past: Seeking Healing Through Justice.  It was sponsored by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA). 

There were many exhibits set up in one area and organizations had the opportunity to share their mission and distribute information.  Myself and Rebecca Mooney, Executive Director "worked" the table.  We were please that State Rep Paul Brodeurfor stopped by to show his support!

In addition to the exhibits there were some amazing speakers including First Lady Diane Patrick (wife to MA Governor Deval Patrick) who is an advocate against domestic violence and a survivor, Janet Connors.  I really wish I had written this right after I heard Janet spoke b/c she was amazing - one of the best speakers I've ever heard!  Her message was so powerful and I can't do it justice now but basically to make a long story short - her 19 year old son was murdered by four other young men.  Instead of seeking revenge, or living the rest of her life filled w/ anger, or curling up in a ball and doing nothing Janet has and still is making a difference.  She is an activist and is responsible for bringing change to the MA legal system.  Janet wanted the chance to talk to her son's murders but was told that had never been done. . .  so she changed it!  There is now a program called "Victim-Offender Dialogue" where the victim can talk to the offender in a very structured, supervised fashion (along w/ a lot of counseling and support).  Janet shared her experiences of meeting w/ two of the offenders and her stories amazed me.  The way she has "handled" this is truly remarkable to me.  Janet asked the crowd, "What does justice mean to you?"  This question really got me thinking.  Justice to me means fair, right, reasonable. . . but who decides what is fair, right and reasonable?  Complicated right!?  Janet does not feel that her son received justice and I think she is right - the man responsible for actually murdering her son was found not guilty and never served a day in prison for what he did.  Was justice served?  Janet talked about "restorative justice" and how she feels that Victim-Offender Dialogue can play a role in restorative justice.  She was able to find some peace by meeting w/ two of her son's murderers.  Lastly, the message that has stuck w/ me from her is "NO MORE HARM."  Janet stated this over and over again.  She told her other two children this after their brother was killed, she told his friends this, her neighbors this.  . . she told them that she did not want more harm to come b/c of what had happen to her son.  Later she told the two offenders that she met w/ the same message, "NO MORE HARM."  She hopes that they could go on to lead a better life and not cause harm on any other human being.  I hope her message resonated w/ them. . . People like Janet inspire me.  They turn something bad into something good by making a difference in their community.  I hope that Janet keeps on fighting for victim rights and keeps on raising awareness b/c she certainly is making a difference.

The other event I recently helped out w/ was the "Melrose Run for Women" which was on Mother's Day.  The Melrose Running Club organizes this event and the money raised by race participants is donated to MAAV.  The cool thing about this event is that it is held on Mother's Day and is a women only event.  Mothers, daughters and even grandmothers do this race together!  What an awesome way to celebrate Mother's Day and to honor and remember the women who are no longer w/ us due to domestic violence.

Over 1,000 women participated in the race/walk.  That is the most ever!  The weather was great for the runners and warm enough for those of us standing around!  Ha!  So thankful the rain held off too.

My job was to "man" the MAAV table which had a few raffles, face painting for the kids and info about the organization.  I think I did a pretty good job but had to take a quick break to visit w/ 2 huge Great Danes!  They were so sweet!

The run is an annual event so if you live in MA I encourage you to consider participating next year.  It was a fun morning and we were done early enough that people could still take their moms out for lunch! 

So now the board and the staff is focusing on the training components of MAAV especially the anti-bullying trainings for the schools (staff, students and parents).  MAAV does excellent trainings so if you would like one for your school or organization and live in MA let me know!!



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