Det. Matt McCarthy takes a second for photos after being presented with his award for outstanding community sevice. (Ashley Finethy) (click for larger version)
February 15, 2012PLYMOUTH — On Feb. 11, 200 community members gathered at the Common Man Inn and Spa to celebrate the continuing success of Voices Against Violence at the Annual "Hearts in the Right Place" Winter Ball.
This was the ninth annual ball for the organization.
Guests began arriving around 6 p.m., greeted by appetizers, friends and the silent auction.
"This event is phenomenal, partly because we look forward to it every year because it is a big fundraiser for us, but also because we love to get all of our supporters together and thank them for everything they do for us all year — particularly our donors and our local businesses who sponsor us," said President of the Board of Directors Robin DeRosa.
Showing appreciation for sponsors and donors is so important to the organization because all of the funds generated throughout the year go to a majority of operation costs for the organization.
"All of this money goes to the shelter, and any of the items that are needed for the shelter," said Board of Directors Treasurer Sally Bevan. "It goes toward helping our clients get to their appointments in the court house, or if they need to go to the hospital, or anything like that. It helps with all of that. It helps with us going into schools and educating students, and also lets us go work with the police so they are better with working with the victims. All of this takes a lot of money."
After dinner, DeRosa spoke to the room about the grassroots beginning of Voices to Violence, and how the organization has changed from pull out couches and friends calling friends to a shelter and a variety of other helpful services.
"Things are a little different now," said DeRosa. "We have our full shelter. We have new people coming into our shelter, not every few months, but every single day. It is not a couple of families a year anymore that we serve; we are now serving about 900 victims every year in our area."
With so many changes taking place, DeRosa still insists Voices Against Violence is a grassroots organization.
"We are still a grassroots organization, and these neighbors who first did the sheltering are really the foundation of Voices Against Violence, and even though we have grants and staff and a strategic plan, it is just us. It is the people here in this room who are doing what they can, and more than they can, to help our community," said DeRosa.
DeRosa and Executive director Lisa Farmer introduced the recipient of the organization's yearly community service award to Det. Matt McCarthy of the Plymouth Police Department.
"He is a true model of a kind of empowering, knowledgeable and caring advocacy that Voices Against Violence is known for," said DeRosa. "He is a member of the local sexual assault resource team, which is a collaborative community response to sexual assault, and he is a member of the Plymouth area training team for domestic violence."
McCarthy's contributions to making the community a safer place and helping to handle domestic and sexual violence situations are only the tip of the iceberg, however.
"He has been instrumental in writing a more victim centered protocol for the local police response to domestic violence and sexual assault. He is at our Voices volunteer training all of the time, helping our new volunteers to understand how to help people in crisis," said DeRosa. "When he meets with victims, he always treats them with compassion, and displays a true understanding of the many obstacles and biases they may encounter on their journey to becoming a survivors."
Most notably, McCarthy doesn't just handle domestic or sexual violence on the clock at work; he also contributes his own time to help victims any way her can.
"He has also volunteered his own time and money to assist a victim fleeing an abusive relationship by helping her pack and move to a safe place," DeRosa pointed out.
After speeches and the award presentation, Boston based band Ripcord entertained for the evening, playing an incredible selection of music as everyone danced the evening away.
Even though the winter ball is Voices Against Violence's biggest event, the organizations has several fundraisers and community events coming. Currently, the organization is accepting donated of antiques, collectables, coins, and jewelry, and in May, will be hosting a "Dancing with Plymouth's Stars" event.