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Victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence honored at Safe Berks’ Walk for No More

The services she received from Safe Berks, one survivor of interpersonal violence said, helped her heal from trauma and gain a second chance at life.

The woman, whose anonymity is being protected, told her story in a letter to Beth Garrigan, CEO of the agency that supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

She was at the hospital following an incident of interpersonal violence, the survivor said, when she spoke with a Safe Berks advocate.

“I then met with one of your counselors, Maria Mateo, to whom I am extremely grateful,” the woman wrote. “She gave me so many words of wisdom at a time when my entire life was collapsing.”

She was working on a degree in criminal justice at Alvernia University at the time, the survivor said, and Mateo helped her create a plan for staying on track academically.

“Juggling my classes and trauma was extremely challenging,” she wrote.

But the woman persevered and graduated, all while continuing to receive counseling sessions and, later, participating in group therapy.

Two months after earning her degree, she accepted a full-time job in her field.

“I am a believer of God,” she wrote, “and now, between him and the services I received at Safe Berks, I have a second chance to live. I will forever be grateful for the compassionate service I received during this challenging time.”

The woman asked that her letter be read aloud Saturday as part of a ceremony kicking off Safe Berks’ annual Walk for No More.

Participants in the Safe Berks Walk for No More gather for a presentation at the Sly Fox in Wyomissing prior to their walk down Penn Avenue on Saturday in West Reading. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Participants in the Safe Berks Walk for No More gather for a presentation at the Sly Fox in Wyomissing prior to their walk down Penn Avenue on Saturday in West Reading. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

The event aims to honor and show support for victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. It also raises awareness of the nonprofit’s services.

Walking five blocks may seem like a small gesture, but it makes a profound impact, said Mandy Acuna, president of the Safe Berks board of directors.

“You taking this walk means safety to a survivor who feels alone,” Acuna said, “respect to the staff who works tirelessly for the cause, empowerment to a victim who is not quite ready to leave, education to a younger generation who can break down cultural norms and hope to a family who has taken a chance on a brighter future.”

Dacey Horohoe, community relations and resource manager for Safe Berks, presents the Voices for Change Award to BCTV Executive Director Heather Adams prior to the Walk for No More on Penn Avenue in West Reading on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Dacey Horohoe, community relations and resource manager for Safe Berks, presents the Voices for Change Award to BCTV Executive Director Heather Adams prior to the Walk for No More on Penn Avenue in West Reading on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Saturday’s ceremony included the presentations of Safe Berks’ Voices for Change awards to an area nonprofit and local business.

The award was created in 1997 to honor community partners whose work makes a significant contribution to furthering the mission of Safe Berks.

This year’s recipients were Berks Community Television and Wyomissing Restaurant.

BCTV has been a huge asset to Safe Berks in several Ways, Acuna said.

The Safe Berks produced and hosted educational program broadcasts on BCTV. The nonprofit media company also produces Safe Berks’ promotional and educational videos.

Heather Adams, CEO of BCTV and a Safe Berks board member accepted the award on behalf of BCTV.

“Today is a testament to the hard work of our entire team,” Adams said. “But it’s really a recognition of the voices in our community. The voices are the future of knowledge for sharing and understanding and the voices for change.”

Mindy McIntosh, director of development for Safe Berks, presents the Voices for Change Award to Oz Chaudhry of the Wyomissing Restaurant prior to the Walk for No More on Penn Avenue in West Reading on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
Mindy McIntosh, director of development for Safe Berks, presents the Voices for Change Award to Oz Chaudhry of the Wyomissing Restaurant prior to the Walk for No More on Penn Avenue in West Reading on Saturday. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)

Oz and Riz Chaudry, owners of Wyomissing Restaurant, accepted the award on behalf of the staff and management of the business on Penn Avenue.

Following the ceremony, the crowd started the Walk for No More.

Most participants donned sky-blue-colored Safe Berks t-shirts before making their way down Penn Avenue in West Reading.

The march preceded the kickoff of the Art on the Avenue festival.

Now in its 30th year, the event features dozens of vendors lining several blocks of the borough’s main thoroughfare.

More than 200 vendors manned stands featuring arts, crafts, food, beer and more. The event included music acts on three stages.

Art on the Avenue is hosted by the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation.

The Safe Berks Walk for No More begins Saturday at the Wyomissing Knitting Mills. (BILL UHRICH - READING EAGLE)
The Safe Berks Walk for No More begins Saturday at the Wyomissing Knitting Mills. (BILL UHRICH – READING EAGLE)


Source: Berkshire mont

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