Published in the March 9, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD — Approximately 40 Wakefield residents pledged to be part of the solution to help end violence against women as well as all gender-based violence at a White Ribbon Day reception held Tuesday, March 7 in the lower level Lecture Hall at the Beebe Library.

While those attending were standing, the pledge was read at the close of the ceremony by Wakefield’s Police Chief Rick Smith, Town Administrator Stephen P. Maio, State Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus/Wakefield) and State Rep. Paul Brodeur (D-Melrose).

The event was hosted by members of Wakefield Alliance Against Violence (WAAV) and commemorated Massachusetts White Ribbon Day as established by Jane Doe, Inc., an organization whose goal is to stop domestic and other forms of violence.

Leading up to the event, 20 white ribbons were tied on poles in the Square to remind people that violence of any kind is neither acceptable nor appropriate in the community.

Ross Steinborn, community engagement coordinator for the YWCA North Shore Rape Crisis Center, offered brief comments about the importance of recognizing violence and eliminating it in the community. He introduced Brendan Kent, health, athletics and wellness director for Wakefield’s schools for the past two years, who said that at his previous position coaching students in Melrose, he emphasized the need to respect and care about other people. He has carried that forward in Wakefield.

Kent also mentioned a grant the School Department received from New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft that provides training for coaches and athletic directors. The grant focuses on social norms and gender biases and includes an innovative partnership that will pair schools with local domestic violence assault service providers for ongoing support.

Wakefield Police Department Family Services Officer Amy Rando also talked about being one of nine officers in her department who work with domestic violence survivors. She urged every member of the community to be “part of the solution.”

Mehreen Butt, public policy director at Rosie’s Place in Boston’s South End, spoke about the services her organization offers and said that 12,000 women every year are served at Rosie’s Place. She invited everyone who attended to serve a meal there or volunteer in some way.

Locally, WAAV members have held fundraisers, including a 5K race and a Dining for Dollars promotion at the Dockside Restaurant in Greenwood. Surveys concerning dating violence have also been distributed to high school students and Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes have been held to teach women how to defend themselves in violent situations.

In addition, WAAV sponsors a one-woman play titled “The Yellow Dress,” which is performed annually during prom season for the junior class at the high school. The play shows how a loving relationship can suddenly turn violent. Performances are made possible by WAAV in partnership with the Police Department, Wakefield Rotary Club, WAKE-UP (Wakefield Unified Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition), Beebe Library and the high school’s athletics program.