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Partners for Peace to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month with Oct. 4 walk in D-F

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DOVER-FOXCROFT — Partners for Peace, the domestic violence resource center serving Piscataquis and Penobscot counties which earlier this year announced a name change from the Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, will mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a free Walk to End Abuse in the late afternoon of Wednesday, Oct. 4 in Dover-Foxcroft.

“What we are doing this year is a walk because we have a new name and we want to be sure the community knows our resources are still available in our three communities,” said Partners for Peace Prevention Educator Angie Alfonso, referring to walks set for later in October in Lincoln and Bangor.

She said the Penobscot County events start at 5 p.m. on Oct. 11 in Lincoln and then at noon in West Market Square in Bangor on Oct. 18. “We want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to attend,” Alfonso said.

“All of these events include opportunities to speak out and a short walk and refreshments,” she said with the schedule being 4-6 p.m. on Oct. 4 at Kiwanis Park behind the Piscataquis Regional YMCA on Park Street. Displays will be set up for viewing around 4 p.m. and the walk starts about an hour later.

In years past October featured a weekend road race for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, with a benefit five kilometer race and walk being held in Guilford during the morning of the first Sunday of the month. Alfonso said due to declining numbers of race participants and conflicting schedules with faith-based participants, Partners for Peace officials decided to change the Piscataaquis County event to a walk after 20 years of having a road race/walk.

“We are going to try something new,” she said. “The race for so long honored our homicide victims and we hope our longtime supporters join us for our new event.”

“By holding it on a Wednesday evening it is early enough for families, and we are really hoping people all join us for more of an awareness opportunity than a fundraiser,” Alfonso said. She said those who register for the Oct. 4 walk at www.partnersforpeaceme.org — either as individuals or as a team — will receive a free 2017 Domestic Violence Awareness Month T-shirt.

Alfonso said the Foxcroft Academy girls soccer team has registered to take part, and she thanked them for sacrificing a day of practice.

“We are encouraging people who walk to wear something to reflect their school, business or family,” Alfonso. “It is great for us to see who our partners are.” She said businesses and organizations can donate through event sponsorships and individuals may also donate, as opposed to pledges for runs and walks in previous years.

The Walk to End Abuse will be held rain or shine. “It’s a little over a mile,” Alfonso said, as the participants will travel from Kiwanis Park to Mechanic and Winter streets, turn onto North Street and then West Main Street before returning via Mechanic and Winter streets.

“What I am excited about is people who can’t attend the events in Lincoln or Bangor can get the same feel with our Dover event,” Alfonso said. “We are recognizing Domestic Violence Month by celebrating survivors, honoring victims and recognizing community and how they all have a role.”

“Each year we do a Knowlege is Power Campaign, so we are asking the community to start a conversation about tolerance,” she said. Partners for Peace donates three age-appropriate books to school, town and hospital libraries with accompanying displays.

“These are books we donate and on each inside cover is a bookplate” containing Partners for Peace contact information, she said. “These are a donation to the community because we rely so much on what the communities donate to us and it is a way to reciprocate.”

Through the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence Take Action Maine event, “We are asking people who are comfortable doing so to take a picture of themselves as a partner taking action against domestic violence,” Alfonso said.

“That will link together with everybody who is taking action, so that is really cool,” she added, with pictures shared on social media.

Wednesday, Oct. 11 is Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day. “What we are hoping to do is incorporate health care facilities in Piscataquis and Penobscot counties on what their role should be,” said Partners for Peace Advocate Merrily Fales. “My job will be to go up and share with them information and tool kits.”

For many victims of domestic violence, their health care providers are often the first contact post-incident and Partners for Peace wants providers to know the organization can be there to assist.

“The people who are in trouble in their life, one place they may reach out to is their medical provider,” said Partners for Peace Advocacy Program Manager Cindy Freeman-Cyr. “We are working on just sharing information we have on tools and resources and making sure providers know that they don’t have to manage all of that, they can come to us.”

Fales said among her outreach will be organizing screenings of the film “Finding Jenn’s Voice” at hospitals in the two counties. The documentary tells the story of the film namesake, who was murdered while pregnant by her boyfriend.

Partners for Peace estimates that about half of the homicides in Maine in the last 25 years were domestic violence-related and screenings of “Finding Jenn’s Voice” will help make more of the public aware. Showings at both health care facilities and for the public are in the planning stages.

Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom
PURPLE RIBBON — Partners for Peace will host a Walk to End Abuse, with events from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at Kiwanis Park in Dover-Foxcroft.

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