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Womanshelter/Companeras receives grant

Date: 10/27/2009

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE -- Womanshelter/Companeras was one of 13 agencies addressing the needs of people who have suffered from domestic violence to receive a grant from the Verizon Foundation this year.

The awards were announced at a presentation at Holyoke Heritage State Park on Friday.

Womanshelter/Companeras, which helps women and their families in the greater Holyoke, Chicopee and Springfield area, received $10,000 of the $160,000 in awards made this year. Womanshelter/Companeras and the Elizabeth Freeman Center In. of Pittsfield were the only Western Massachusetts-based programs to receive a grant this year from the Verizon Foundation.

Karen Cavanaugh, executive director of Womanshelter/Companeras said there have been 23 domestic violence murders in the state this year.

"The homicides are not the only measure of the horror of domestic violence," she added.

"By funding innovative program like Womanshelter/Companeras' victim resource workshops, the Verizon Foundation demonstrates a commitment to helping all victims of domestic violence, Their level of concern and support strengthens our families, our agencies and our communities," Cavanaugh said.

Sheridan Haines, of the Governor's Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, said the Commonwealth had used stimulus funds to help mitigate cuts that had been made to budgets that support domestic violence programs.

She expressed concern about the next round of cuts to help close the state's budget gap.

State Sen. Michael Knapik thanked the Verizon Foundation officials for the grants and said, "Those in government know we can't do it alone."

Among the programs supported by the grant was the Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project of Cambridge, which provides statewide counseling and advocacy for victims of domestic violence. Curt Rogers, the executive director of the organization, explained the one in four gay men experience domestic violence. The grant the organization received helps fund a hotline that serves Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Verizon New England President Donna Cupelo said that over 50 agencies and programs applied this year for the grants.

"We at Verizon believe domestic violence in everyone's issue," she said.