Standing with Women
Photography provided by Vera House
Each March, Vera House leads the White Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness and funds to stop domestic and sexual violence. This year, Syracuse City School District Superintendent Jaime Alicea will serve as honorary chair of the 24th Annual White Ribbon Campaign. Proceeds from the campaign help fund Vera House education and awareness programs and services.
“The funds raised by the White Ribbon Campaign are critical for our programs and services, but even more important is the message of this campaign,” said Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman. “Ending domestic and sexual violence requires each of us to do our part to help change a community standard that has for too long tolerated violence and abuse. With Superintendent Alicea’s leadership, we hope to bring the important message of the White Ribbon Campaign to the forefront of our community.”
Syracuse Woman Magazine talked with Jaime to learn more about his plans for this year’s campaign.
SWM: How did you get involved with Vera House?
Jaime: I have been involved with Vera House for nearly 25 years. When I was the principal at Seymour Elementary School, we had representatives from Vera House come in and speak to our parents.
SWM: Have you been involved with the White Ribbon Campaign in the past? If so, how did it affect you?
Jaime: Yes, I have been involved in the campaign since 1997, when I was principal at Fowler High School. It has had a tremendous impact on me, both personally and professionally. I am always amazed at the great work that the staff at Vera House does and the huge role they play in our community regarding domestic violence and its prevention.
SWM: What’s new for the White Ribbon Campaign this year?
Jaime: In the Syracuse City School District, I am actively engaging our students to take a more active role in the campaign this year. I am also reaching out to the other superintendents, to ask for their support and to see if they are interested in getting involved.
SWM: Do you plan to get administrators and staff involved in the White Ribbon Campaign?
Jaime: Yes, all of our staff will have the opportunity to get involved.
SWM: You’ve been with the Syracuse City School District since 1983, in a number of different positions. Have you had experience helping children who are victims of domestic violence? If so, how did you approach it and how did that experience affect you?
Jaime: Of course. I have had both students and staff members confide in me about difficult situations in their personal lives, including domestic violence. On more than one occasion, I have referred them to the Vera House for support.
SWM: Talk about the role men can play in changing social norms, and setting positive examples for the next generation.
Jaime: It is very important for men to be a part of this campaign and to speak out about domestic violence. This is not a gender issue, but one we all have to be willing to be a part of. I am very proud of the fact that Vera House is working in our high schools with our young men and that we have incorporated the Men of Strength Clubs into our school buildings. We also tackle this issue at the middle school level through our Building Men program.
SWM: Between your responsibilities with the SCSD, the community and your personal life, how do you stay healthy and balanced?
Jaime: I try to find time for myself that is not work-related on the weekends. My job can be 24/7 a lot of the time, but I know it is important to have some balance. I enjoy day trips to the Finger Lakes and Adirondacks and taking photographs. I also enjoy traveling abroad and going home to Puerto Rico when my schedule allows.
SWM: How can readers get involved in the White Ribbon Campaign?
Jaime: They can contact Vera House directly or contact my office and donate that way. SWM
For information on how to participate in the White Ribbon Campaign, contact Vera House Director of Communications & Special Events Chris Benton, at (315) 425-0818 x 2248 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit verahouse.org.