Just over the Attleboro border in North Attleboro, hundreds gathered to show their support in ending sexual and domestic violence.
More than 300 people attended the Moonlit Wine, Beer and Food Tasting fundraiser at Briggs Nursery.
“The number of people in attendance tonight speaks to the importance of our mission of ending sexual and domestic violence in our community,” New Hope Board of Directors President, Rich Terry said.
The number of people who supported the Saturday night was "truly heart warming," Kimberly Thomas, executive director and president of New Hope, said.
“In this economy to have achieved more than our goal is a credit to all of our community supporters including Briggs Nursery, which provided us with this beautiful setting," Thomas said. "It has been overwhelming in a positive way to see so many coming together in support of ending domestic violence.”
“With the funds being raised tonight, we have people who are being sheltered who wouldn’t otherwise," she added. "Just as we are fortunate to be in our own homes free of fear, they too are safe and can be free of fear."
Many of those in attendance heard of the event through their churches’ involvement with New Hope, others attended because they heard through word-of-mouth that it was sold out last year.
Some, however, were there to support New Hope because they have been personally affected by domestic or sexual violence. They, more than anyone else, know how crucial New Hope’s programs are for victims.
“Statistically one in four women, in their lifetime is personally affected by domestic or sexual violence,” Laura Hennessey Martens, vice president of development and public relations of New Hope, explained. “So looking into the crowd tonight, statistics say quite a few of us have been affected by domestic violence.”
“Events like these are important in raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence," Martens added. "If we don’t talk about it, we can’t really fix it."
“My daughter was verbally abused by her long-term boyfriend," said one guest who preferred not to be identified. "Even when he ridiculed decisions that she made, I didn’t know it was abuse. It was Oprah’s little whisper that told her to get out of this relationship."
The event was drew many familiar Attleboro faces.
Former Attleboro teacher and current resident, Kate Kristenson, now a principal in Mansfield, has not personally been impacted by violence, but knows students who have. “New Hope has been a life saver for school children and their families who have found themselves in circumstances beyond their control.”
Recently retired Attleboro Police Chief Richard Pierce and his wife Cynthia were also in attendance. “We are big supporters of the domestic violence programs offered through New Hope," Cynthia Pierce said. "New Hope, through the United Way, was helpful in securing job funding for a victims’ advocate whose work is very important to the"
“Tonight is a good opportunity to continue to show my support for all domestic violence victims," City Councilwoman Shannon Heagney (and former New Hope board member) said. "I have been impacted by a friend’s experience and the support New Hope provided her. "That support was vital for her realization that she was no longer a victim, but she was a survivor who could help others.”
Heagney's fellow councilman, City Councilor William Bergevine and his wife Claudia were also in attendance. Bergevine said he and his wife came to be involved with New Hope because his wife Claudia worked as a volunteer on the New Hope Hotline.
Mayor Kevin Dumas also showed his support to end domestic and sexual violence by attending.
“I’m very happy to be here for New Hope’s Third Annual Fundraiser," Dumas said. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to come and support New Hope for all that they do for battered women and their families,” Mayor Kevin Dumas said.
While many focused their attention on victims, Ralph Arguin, retired Attleboro teacher and current owner of Country Gardens in Rehoboth, gave kudos to the number of people who made the night a success.
"The amount of work that went into tonight's event is unbelievable," he said. "I know it took a great deal of effort and dedication to pull this off. It's unfortunate that we have to have an organization like New Hope, but it is heartening to see so many like-minded community supporters doing their part.”
New Hope's organizers encourages neighbors, friends, families and co-workers to help victims of violence by calling the New Hope Hotline at 1-800-323-HOPE (4673).