SPECIAL FEATURE: We Wear The White Ribbon
BY FARAH F. JADRAN | PHOTO BY CINDY BELL
Every year since 1994 the Syracuse community has taken a pledge. This promise is a call to action, a call to make a difference and put an end to domestic and sexual violence.
While each campaign in the name of Vera House has seen more involvement and an increase in funds raised, the true goal of this year’s White Ribbon Campaign is to instill a sense of responsibility in the men, young and old, and even women. This year’s campaign will run from April 12 to 21. It kicks off with the annual noon “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on April 12 in downtown Syracuse.
According to 2013 campaign co-chair and Vera House Foundation Trustee David Bellso, this mission is about redefining the word, “man.” In his second year as a co-chair, Bellso says this is his turn to really make a difference. “Don’t let other men be abusers, help stop bullying in our schools by setting good examples for our children and know when enough is enough,” Bellso said. Ultimately, he wants Vera House to continue to be a “safe place” for women, children and men to come when they are being abused. “[Vera House] will continue to educate people about the rights and wrongs, the ‘appropriates’ and ‘in-appropriates’ and all the while putting an end to domestic violence and sexual abuse.”
Bellso’s co-chairs, Buster Melvin, Vera House Board Member, and George Kilpatrick, Vera House Men’s Outreach Coordinator, share similar visions for this year’s campaign. Melvin has been involved with the campaign since 1997 and has seen many levels of success. However, he says he’s especially excited about the possibilities this year because of the leadership and involvement of this year’s honorary chairs, Dan Cummings, Matt Mulcahy and Michael Benny. “All three of these men demonstrate the sincerity and dedication necessary to promote the White Ribbon Campaign’s goals of raising awareness about domestic and sexual violence and raising the funds necessary for Vera House to continue its mission,” Melvin said. And as a former honorary chair himself, Kilpatrick says he’s looking forward to the collaborative participation. “I am excited that my colleagues in media have lent their voices to the chorus of men standing up to end domestic violence,” Kilpatrick shared.
Meet the 2013 White Ribbon Campaign Honorary Chairs:
CBS5 News Anchor & Managing Editor
“When Vera House asks, I say ‘yes.’ I’m proud to be a small part of this annual effort.” Saying no to domestic and sexual violence is important to Benny, but he affirms that it should be important to all of us. “On any given day I am reading news stories about horrifying abuse and neglect,” he said. “If my involvement in this effort shines a bit of light on the problem and provides meaningful information that can be used to help stop it, I’ve been successful.”
Eager to start spreading the message, Benny immediately announced his appointment as honorary chair via Facebook and Twitter. “There will be more to come on social media for sure, especially Twitter.” Be sure to join the Twitter conversation with @MichaelBenny.
WSYR NewsChannel 9 News Anchor
“Vera House asked me to play this role in the White Ribbon Campaign, and I was honored to be included.” Cummings says he’s always had tremendous admiration for the work their staff and volunteers do in our community. “It’s been 35 years since I began to report the news in Syracuse and Central New York,” Cummings shared. “Unfortunately, during all those years, I’ve seen and continue to see the effects of domestic abuse as reflected in far too many news stories. Beyond that, the undeniable coarsening of culture and cheapening of relationships appears to lay the groundwork for such abuse to continue.” However, Cummings strongly believes there needs to be more conversation among young people and young adults in our community. With that, the message of respect will be established as they enter into meaningful relationships of their own.
With the resources and multiple platforms of NewsChannel 9 and Vera House, Cummings says he’ll be seeking to tell stories about the causes and effects of relationship violence, ways to prevent it, and point people towards, the help they need.
NBC3 & CW6 News Anchor & Managing Editor
“I have long followed the work of Vera House and know how critical it has been to making our community safer for all victims of abuse.” Mulcahy has covered stories involving Executive Director Randi Bregman and Vera House for nearly 20 years. When Bregman said she needed some help with this year’s campaign, he didn’t hesitate to accept. “There is no place for abuse in our community. Women, children and men deserve a sense of safety and security in their lives. No one should take that away,” Mulcahy said. “Men, in particular, need to understand violence, intimidation or other abuse is not a solution to any problem.”
Mulcahy says he will be talking about the campaign on the CNYcentral television stations, as well as utilizing Facebook and Twitter @mattmulcahy to engage viewers and followers in important discussions about “Saying No to Abuse.”
For more information on the 2013 White Ribbon Campaign and how you can get involved, visit www.verahouse.org.