Thanks to the generosity of Wilton women and businesses, the Wilton Woman’s Club was able to raise $44,000 for the Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force (DVTF), and the Domestic Violence Crisis Center (DVCC), at the club’s 11th Annual Fashion Show and Luncheon this year.  Club co-presidents Jen Toll and Lorraine Winsor said, “We could not be more proud of this wonderful, giving community.  Our attendees and auction donors heard about the valuable work that these DV groups do for women, men, and children, and they gave from the heart.”

The DVCC, headquartered in Stamford and Norwalk, provides safe houses, crisis intervention, safety planning, counseling, child services, 24/7 Spanish speaking services, legal advocacy, and Teen Peaceworks education and prevention programs in schools. It staffs a 24-hour hotline for calls and questions related to fear and domestic violence:  1-888-774-2900.  The DVCC also formed local grassroots task forces in Weston, Wilton, Darien, New Canaan, and Westport.

The Wilton Domestic Violence Task Force promotes awareness of domestic violence in Wilton, distributes information, and provides educational programs in schools to teach children about respectful and equal relationships. After traffic related activities, Wilton police say that domestic-related investigations are one of the more frequent calls they are involved in here, across all demographics of income, race, age, and gender. Last year, the DVCC provided the equivalent of $350,000 worth of services to Wilton residents, including legal aid and counseling, according to executive director Kevin Shippy.

President of the Wilton DVTF, Jennifer McNamara, stated, “We are so grateful for the incredible generosity of the Wilton Woman’s Club and feel very lucky to live in a town with such magnanimous people. The Task Force has already begun to collaborate with school administrators who were very excited at the prospect of having a motivational speaker such as Jackson Katz and/or Jeff Bucholtz to address students, faculty and staff at Middlebrook and the high school. This will be followed by programming we will be able to provide as a result of this generous donation, which will educate our boys and girls so that they will be able to challenge and eradicate gender stereotypes, recognize the cultural factors that contribute to the abuses of power, and be proficient in recognizing what constitutes a healthy relationship versus an unhealthy one.”

WWC philanthropy co-chairs Mariann Bigelow and Dianne deWitt, along with the whole Philanthropy Committee, were responsible for choosing this year’s beneficiary. “We are so pleased to be donating to the DVCC and DVTF this year, in light of all the revelations of sexual abuse and misconduct, particularly against women, being publicized now,” deWitt explained. “And the only real way to create a cultural shift away from this behavior is to educate our children, and that is the large part of our giving this year,” Bigelow added.

The event, though raising money to fight a somber issue, was a happy day welcoming a brief respite in cold, rainy weather.  Over 230 women from Wilton and surrounding towns came together at Rolling Hills Country Club for a Silent Auction, including trips from AmFund to eight different locations including Greece, Tuscany, and Napa Valley, a prize drawing for tickets to Hamilton, a delicious lunch, and a fashion show featuring club members modeling spring fashions from Lord & Taylor.  Toll, Winsor and deWitt, co-chairs of the event, said, “This event has become a tradition in Wilton, where women can come together for a fun day, socialize, welcome Spring, learn about issues in our community, and give generously to invest in solutions.”

The club especially wishes to thank the sponsors who believed in this cause so strongly:  Bankwell in Wilton, the Bauer Family Foundation, Price Financial Group, and media sponsor GOOD Morning Wilton. In addition, thank you to Open House Gift Shop, which donated a bracelet to each attendee, and Peggy Garbus Photography, for taking and providing photos of the event. Thank you so much to each of the Wilton businesses who donated to the Silent Auction; these items made a huge difference in raising funds for this important cause.

The Wilton Woman’s Club welcomes all Wilton women aged 18 and over to join the club when its new year starts on June 1, by signing up on its website. The club is dedicated to community service, philanthropy, education, and strengthening bonds between women.

The DVCC is holding its annual luncheon on May 24, and will feature nationally acclaimed filmmaker, educator and activist Jackson Katz, who started the Mentors in Violence Prevention program used by schools, sports organizations, and the U.S. military, to change habits and norms related to gender violence and sexual harassment, including the use of passive language around “violence against women.”  McNamara will receive the 2018 Voices of Courage award.  For more information and tickets, please visit the DVCC website.