Story by: Kendra Wingate
FAIRFIELD — The seventh annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event shut down the Post Road in downtown Fairfield Saturday morning as more than a thousand supporters marched in an effort to raise awareness and show support for those affected by sexual abuse and violence.
Rainy skies turned blue as supporters, whose numbers continue to grow each year, gathered in full force at the Fairfield train station off Mill Plain Road for the 9 a.m kickoff.
This event raises awareness and also vital funds for the Center for Family Justice. “We are excited to be here at our seventh Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event,” said event host Debra Greenwood, President/CEO at the Center for Family Justice. “We have a wonderful turnout of high school students, college students, community leaders, police enforcement and a lot of our state and local leadership.”
The Center for Family Justice, Inc. brings all domestic, sexual and child abuse services (crisis intervention, police, prosecutors, civil/legal providers, and counseling) under one roof at its headquarters in Bridgeport. “Together,” it states, “we work to break the violence by helping those in crisis restore their lives. The Center has for 12 decades provided free, confidential, bilingual crisis services in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. It is the comprehensive services our partners are providing that are streamlining the road to healing and self-sufficiency.”
State Sen. Tony Hwang, an event speaker said, “Walk a Mile is an annual reminder for men to champion the fight against domestic violence. It was also impressive to see participants from all ages and genders embrace the call to end violence. I was especially encouraged to see students from local colleges and high schools join in the awareness walk. These men will lead by example future changes on societal norms and expectation for the better.”
The Center for Family Justice White Ribbon Task Force, a group of men committed to ending gender-based violence; highlight their show of support and solidarity with victims and survivors, by walking the mile from the train station to Town Hall along the Post Road, literally in her shoes — high heeled women’s shoes (many of which are red).
Joining Greenwood were many additional notable supporters including event chair, former Fairfield police chief, Director of Public Safety & Government Affairs at Sacred Heart University Gary MacNamara. “Your presence is your impact, we want to give everybody here a round of applause today,” said MacNamara. “Our message is pretty simple; it’s that we as specifically men and boys can help prevent sexual assault and sexual violence against women. It’s a pretty clear message which we are sending to the community today in and around Fairfield. This group works hard to send that message. Thank you all for coming.”
Fairfield Police Chief Chris Lyddy also spoke and thanked participants for coming and helping to deliver the “important message. We are certainly going to wake up the Town of Fairfield this morning. I’d like to thank Chief Salvatore from Monroe, Chief Lombardo from Trumbull, and Chief Tim Shaw from Easton for coming.”
“This cannot be done without all of you here,” said MacNamara, who named “the Center for Family Justice, law enforcement and significant community leaders. With us today is the first selectman of Fairfield Michael Tetreau, first selectman for the Town of Trumbull Vicki Tesoro, and first selectman for the Town of Monroe Ken Kellogg, State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Brenda Kupchick, State Representative Crisitn McCarthy-Vahey and Tom Flynn, chairman of the Board of Finance. The president of Sacred Heart University Dr. Petillo is here, members from Fairfield University and University of Bridgeport are as well. You can see from starting out seven years ago to where we are now we are getting the message across to the people that can effect change.”
In addition to raising awareness, this annual event is an important fundraiser for the the Center for Family Justice, allowing the Center to continue to do the vital work they do, providing crisis and supportive services to adults and children impacted by domestic and sexual violence. More than 1,300 attendees supported last year’s Walk and attendance is believed to have swelled this year. “It’s so inspiring to watch the number of supporters grow each year,” said State Rep. Brenda Kupchick. “Kudos to Deb Greenwood, Gary MacNamara and all the staff at the Center for the amazing work they do every day for the victims of violence.”
“Proceeds of today’s Walk are going to Camp Hope America, Camp Hope Connecticut,” added Greenwood. The Camp Hope National Director from San Diego, John Hamilton, attended and in a show of support, walked the mile in high heeled shoes through Fairfield’s downtown area.
“The biggest statement is that every single constituency is represented here,” said First Selectman Mike Tetreau. “We have young, we have old, we have different towns, elected officials and presidents of universities. I just want to thank you all for coming out. Nothing makes a better statement about how special Fairfield is and also how special our community is when we all come together. Thank you to Deb Greenwood and her team for keeping us on the forefront. We can all make a difference.”
The Walk was sponsored by the Aquarion water company. “This is an important event in the community,” said Bruce Silverstone, vice president of corporate communications. “It supports the fight against domestic violence and sexual abuse. Today’s event led by the folks at the Center for Family Justice shows what great importance this has in the community, there are about 1,000 people here supporting this event and Aquarion is just delighted to help support this.”
“What a tremendous turnout today,” said State Rep. Crisitin McCarthy-Vahey. “Everyone in the community has come together to support the efforts for the Center for Family Justice. It’s an issue we need to be talking about, we need to understand that sexual assault and domestic violence happens in all communities everywhere and we need to work together to combat it.”
“This is a great opportunity for our students to come together for a great cause,” agreed Tommy de Quesada, Principal at Fairfield Prep.
The Center has a 24-hour crisis hotline and as part of their mission and educates approximately 4,000 members of the community each year about the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse, as well as teaching thousands of children and teens about building healthy relationships, bullying prevention and dating violence.. For more information, visit www.CenterForFamilyJustice.org.
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