Story by: Beth Fitzpatrick

Bridgeport, Ct—The Center for Family Justice is hosting a virtual walk party on Saturday, April 25 as its 8th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event goes online in the wake of the global COVID-19 health crisis.

The watch party will kick off at 9 a.m. on CFJ’s Facebook page, @CenterforFamilyJustice, and feature leaders and sponsors of this year’s virtual fundraising and awareness event. They will include CFJ’s President & CEO Debra Greenwood and the virtual walk’s chairperson, Gary MacNamara, Director of Public Safety and Government Affairs at Sacred Heart University. Together, they will stress the continued importance of supporting the thousands of victims and survivors CFJ serves annually during Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month.

This year’s walk is presented by Title Sponsor Aquarion Water Company.

Also joining the Watch Party will be Todd Pelazza, Director of Public Safety at Fairfield University; Don Morrissey, President of Aquarion Water Co; and Brenda Kupchick, First Selectman of Fairfield.

A decision was made in March to transform Walk a Mile in Her Shoes— which normally takes places along Fairfield’s Post Road each April- -into a virtual fundraiser because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since then, hundreds of people have done their own, socially distant walks and posted videos on their social media feeds in support of CFJ and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

The walk is a project of CFJ’s White Ribbon Task Force, a group of male community leaders, including MacNamara and Pelazza, who work together to support CFJ’s efforts to break the generational cycles of gender-based violence in the six communities it serves.

“This health crisis has made our work even more critical and for that reason we’re inspired by the way the community has responded to our virtual event,” said Greenwood. “This pandemic has been particularly challenging for victims and survivors who are coping with the trauma of their abuse while sheltering place. Knowing so many people in the communities we serve stand with them means more than ever.”

Proceeds from the virtual walk will support CFJ’s Camp HOPE America-Bridgeport program, a summer camp and year-long mentoring program for youth ages 7-17 who have been impacted by the trauma of abuse.

“Every year, we walk to raise awareness, but this year we also have the more urgent task of reminding people who are impacted by these issues that we still care,” MacNamara said. “The best way to do that is by doing our own walks and sharing them. The need for CFJ and its clients is still there and it’s still urgent. That’s why I hope people will make the effort to find creative ways to be involved. We’re still walking even though we can’t walk together this year. This year, the donations will matter even more because the clients CFJ serves will need it even more.”

After Saturday’s Watch Party, supporters of CFJ are welcome to continue to do their own personal walks on behalf of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

Supporters can get involved by doing the following:

  • Registering to participate in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes at WalkAMile.CenterforFamilyJustice.org
  • Form a Walk a Mile team and create a fundraising page for that team.
  • Encourage friends and family to donate in support of your efforts.
  • Take a picture or video of yourself walking in support of CFJ and share it on social media using the hashtag #WeStillWalkforCFJ. Suggestion: Wear the Walk a Mile symbol of red shoes or teal, the official color of sexual violence awareness, to show you care.
  • Send those photos to CFJ at BFitzpatrick@CenterforFamilyJustice.org
  • Tag CFJ on social media: @CFJCT on Twitter; @CenterforFamilyJusticeCT on Instagram; @CenterforFamilyJustice on Facebook.

To learn more about supporting Walk a Mile as a participant or donor contact Lisa Labella, CFJ’s Director of Special Events and Community Outreach, Lisa Labella, at LLabella@CenterforFamilyJustice.org

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