Recognizing April Wilson: A Pillars of Change Honoree

April is a 2019 Pillars of Change honoree.

In anticipation of Pillars of Change on June 11th, we are highlighting Sanctuary Volunteers who will be honored at the volunteer recognition event! Learn More and Register for Pillars of Change.

In 2014, April Wilson was introduced to Sanctuary for Families through Mary Ann Mailman, one of Sanctuary for Families’ earliest Board members, a beloved Board President, and overall agency supporter for over 30 years.

April worked as a television producer and editor and was encouraged by Mary Ann to share her incredible talents with Sanctuary for Families.

April has always been an advocate for women’s rights, previously volunteering at a women’s shelter in college. Due to her interests and former volunteer position, she felt a close connection with Sanctuary and was especially inspired by Sanctuary’s wrap-around service model to give back.

Every spring, our Annual Benefit is our largest fundraising event and this year our goal is to raise $2.2 million to support Sanctuary’s programs and services for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence.

April has become an invaluable volunteer to Sanctuary’s Development Team through volunteering her time and skills to create the agency’s Annual Fundraising video since 2014. For the past five years, April has given over 80 hours each year shooting, editing, revising, tweaking, mixing, and outputting the annual video. It is an incredible amount of work and we are so grateful for April’s support and expertise. She volunteers an amazing amount of time and energy all while balancing a full-time job and a family. April always amazes the staff she works with by continually trying to brainstorm ways to improve her work to find the best and most impactful way to showcase the agency and the courageous journeys of the clients we support.

Sanctuary’s Director of Individual Giving and Special Events, Amy Abramson, shares:

“I was immediately drawn to her kindness, openness, and interest in sharing our clients’ stories with the world.”

Amy goes on to say, “April’s support and expertise have offered Sanctuary the ability to get our message out into the world by providing a means for clients to share their stories in a safe, welcoming environment. She is deeply sensitive to our clients’ needs throughout every step in the process, and her work puts Sanctuary and our clients in the best possible light when we are sharing their stories with the world. She is interested in the many issues involved in Sanctuary’s work and is always looking for more information about our services to share them with her own family and community. As an example, recently, April held a small ‘salon’ with her family and friends in her hometown in Texas to talk about these issues, bringing materials and information that she learned from her time working with Sanctuary. In short, we could not do what we do at our events and beyond without April’s priceless help.”

Pillars of Change is an opportunity to honor extraordinary volunteers like April who bring skills, experience, and passion to our staff and hope and opportunity to our clients.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on June 11th, 2019 to recognize April and all of our volunteers for their dedicated service. Please RSVP for Pillars of Change today!

Recognizing Valencia Edwards-Alleyne: A Pillars of Change Honoree

Valencia is a 2019 Pillars of Change honoree.

In anticipation of Pillars of Change on June 11th, we are highlighting Sanctuary Volunteers who will be honored at the volunteer recognition event! Learn More and Register for Pillars of Change.

Valencia Edwards-Alleyne has been a volunteer within Sanctuary’s Children and Family Services Program for numerous locations since 1997!

Before volunteering her time at Sanctuary, Valencia had previous experience working as a camp counselor and wanted to continue working with children in any way that could make a difference. Valencia started as a childcare volunteer, working directly with Sanctuary staff members taking care of children of clients while they attended meetings or support groups. She eventually became a group leader and now runs childcare groups independently. Valencia has continued to expand her role at Sanctuary and her professional expertise has proven a huge asset as well. Valencia has a Masters in early childhood special education and has worked as a teacher for children with special needs for almost the entire time she has volunteered at Sanctuary.

Most recently, Valencia has been volunteering with Sanctuary through the Brooke Jackman Family Literacy Program in the Manhattan Family Justice Center, while preparing to attend a second summer of Camp HOPE New York as a volunteer counselor!

Valencia has been an incredibly invaluable volunteer to the clinical staff throughout the agency; she has provided a positive and memorable time for children while parents receive much-needed services. “I hope that I help to provide the clients with a sense that their children are safe and in good hands during their meetings” Valencia explains.

First, just being a dependable person for 20 years is just a priceless contribution. For children who have experienced a lot of loss and trauma, consistency is so critical to feeling safe and that the world can be dependable” says Laura Fernandez, LMSW, Clinical Department Director.

On Thursday evenings, Valencia provides support to our Survivor Leadership Institute. The innovative program trains former Sanctuary clients, who have been out of their abusive situations for approximately one year, to provide information about gender-based violence to community groups. Survivor Leaders are living examples of how victims can recover their health, power, and self-esteem by seeking help.

“Valencia has seen my son from a very scared and confused 9-year-old in the midst of a domestic violence crisis to a put together and confident 14-year-old. She has been an integral part of helping us rebuild our lives, as I pursued my healing and training at Sanctuary, and he came to feel secure and at home in the space. She was able to create a calm oasis for him when he was a child and now that he’s a teen, she is still able to meet his needs. He has such great, warm feelings about Sanctuary, and that is largely due to the stability and peace that Valencia has created in the childcare room.”

Over the past 20 years, Sanctuary’s staff and services have grown exponentially, and Valencia has been an integral part in providing support to many of our new programs within the Clinical and Children and Family Services department.

“She is selfless and so kind. She makes my children feel safe and they trust and love her so much. Her volunteer service helps me personally so much”

We thank Valencia for her amazing commitment to Sanctuary’s staff and clients! Her impact reaches well beyond what can be captured in words.

We hope you will join us at Pillars of Change on June 11th, 2019 to recognize Valencia and all of our volunteers for their dedicated service. Please RSVP for Pillars of Change today!

Garrard Beeney, Recipient of the 2019 Law Firm Leadership Award

Each year, at our Annual Benefit, Sanctuary for Families celebrates individuals who have shown time and again, their commitment to ending gender-based violence. This year we are honoring Garrard R. Beeney, partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, for his tireless efforts and pro bono counsel on behalf of Sanctuary’s clients.

Every year, at our Annual Benefit, Sanctuary for Families honors those who have made significant contributions to the movement to end gender-based violence. This year, we are thrilled to present the 2019 Law Firm Leadership Award to Garrard R. Beeney, partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, for his tireless efforts and pro bono counsel on behalf of Sanctuary’s clients.

INTRODUCING GARRARD

Garrard is co-head of Sullivan & Cromwell’s Intellectual Property and Technology group. He is recognized as a leading lawyer for his counsel to clients on intellectual property, licensing transactions, and litigation matters around the world. He has handled patent and intellectual property matters before the U.S. Supreme Court, the International Trade Commission, the U.S. Patent Trademark Office, and federal district and appellate courts.

Beyond litigation, Garrard’s work includes an outstanding trajectory of public and social service. He served as deputy mayor of Irvington, New York, for over a decade, and has served on the board of several non-profits including Graham Windham, Mercado Global, and ProBono.net.  Garrard regularly represents clients in pro bono litigation, including a recent successful First Amendment trial and matters involving child adoptions in Arkansas and Nebraska in which he successfully argued issues before both State Supreme Courts.

Garrard holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania’s Law School. He has taught various trial advocacy courses and served as a member of the faculties of the National Trial Skills Program of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Cardozo School of Law.

PARTNERING TO END GENDER VIOLENCE

In a recent interview, Garrard spoke to Sanctuary about his pro bono work and overall involvement with the organization. He first learned about Sanctuary through his daughter Carola, a fellow Sanctuary supporter and former Pro Bono Specialist at Simpson Thacher. The two would often discuss strategy for the numerous Sanctuary cases that Carola’s outstanding team was taking on.

Inspired by our clients’ stories of survival, Garrard formally joined Sanctuary’s Legal Advisory Committee in 2016. Since that time, Garrard has become a strong ally in our work to end gender violence by supporting Sanctuary’s legal staff with expert litigation training and by taking on pro bono cases on behalf of Sanctuary clients.

Where does your commitment to Sanctuary’s mission stem from?

A lot of my pro bono activities have included voting rights and LGBTQ+ rights. To me, it’s about trying to help those that the system has neglected and whom others are trying to exploit. Sanctuary’s work certainly aligns with this objective– The organization uplifts the voices of survivors and those who have been left behind.

Another aspect that makes Sanctuary attractive for us, in terms of partnering with a non-profit organization, is that it has an enormous number of talented, passionate staff members and supporters  ̶  it’s the mission, it’s the people who are part of it, and it’s the voices that Sanctuary raises up that make this organization so appealing.

Is there a particular experience, throughout your work with Sanctuary, that has impacted you?

There are a few that really stand out. The first would be when I led a litigation training program for several Sanctuary attorneys. It was an incredibly impressive group of people. Through the course of talking about getting a case to trial, presenting a case to a judge or a jury, and trial strategy, I learned about their particular cases, the issues that they faced, and what they were trying to achieve. It was enormously educational.

I also had the pleasure of working on an appellate brief with some Sanctuary lawyers on a case involving an abused woman’s right to use a record she had created in trying to attain safety from her abusive spouse – something that was denied to her during the divorce proceedings. On another occasion, I had the opportunity to collaborate with Sanctuary in reuniting a sex trafficking survivor with her son, who had been kept in Mexico as retaliation by her trafficker.

These experiences really spoke to me and made me appreciate the organization and its members even more.

What are some of the biggest challenges we collectively face when addressing gender-based violence?

I think one of the biggest challenges is education. I remember reading a U.N. report that found that the most unsafe place for a woman is her home, yet there is still a widespread lack of understanding of the prevalence and impact of domestic violence.

I also think that we don’t provide fair access to the judicial process to those who have not been as fortunate as many of us. We deny survivors the resources they need – resources that are available but not afforded to them without the assistance of organizations like Sanctuary for Families.

We have to raise awareness in our communities about the effects of gender violence and the resources available to survivors. We also have to raise awareness about how individuals can take action and support organizations like Sanctuary for Families, whether that be through volunteering, providing pro bono services, or by making financial contributions We must all speak up when it comes to these issues.

The theme for this year’s Annual Benefit is #WeAreSanctuary. What does being a part of Sanctuary mean to you?

I think of #WeAreSanctuary in terms of belonging to a community that strives to improve the broader communities of which it is part. Through its work, Sanctuary goes beyond helping survivors – it makes our Sanctuary city better, and many New Yorkers prouder.

In a sense, we are all Sanctuary – not only clients, staff, and board members – because Sanctuary addresses one of the most basic forms of evil that affects all of us. Whether or not we are directly impacted by it, I think we all ought to live in a world free from all forms of gender-based violence and discrimination.

To purchase tickets to our 2019 Annual Benefit, click here.

Laura Mannix Spring, Recipient of the 2019 Zero Tolerance Award

Each year, at our Annual Benefit, Sanctuary for Families celebrates individuals who have shown time and again, their commitment to ending gender-based violence. This year we are honoring Laura Mannix Spring, Director of Studio Services at Barneys New York and Co-Chair of the Barneys New York Foundation.

Each year, at our Annual Benefit, Sanctuary for Families celebrates individuals who have shown time and again, their commitment to ending gender-based violence. This year we are honoring Laura Mannix Spring, Director of Studio Services at Barneys New York and Co-Chair of the Barneys New York Foundation.

Sanctuary will present Laura with the Zero Tolerance Award for her long involvement with the Mother’s Council, the work she has done to build a partnership between Barneys and Sanctuary, and her passion for supporting gender violence survivors.

INTRODUCING LAURA

Laura is well-known for her expertise across multiple areas, from retail sales to community advocacy and development. Since taking on her current role in 1995, she has turned Studio Services into the premier sales area for Barneys New York.

Laura is an outstanding community advocate and philanthropist. Her charities include The Kevin Frawley Foundation, a scholarship on behalf of a close friend who perished on September 11th, and The Nick Traina Foundation, which fights for awareness of mental illness. Laura has also demonstrated her serious commitment to the revitalization of Yonkers, her hometown — She does tireless fundraising for St. Joseph School in Bronxville, is involved with various local businesses, and has served on many committees and boards of the Amackassin Club.

A LONG-STANDING ALLY

Laura and Sanctuary ED Judy H. Kluger, at a Barneys New York Foundation event in support of Sanctuary for Families.

Laura has been a part of the Sanctuary family for over a decade. In a recent interview, she told us about how she first learned about Sanctuary and discussed the reasons for which she is so passionate about our work with survivors of gender-based violence.

Laura was introduced to the organization by her friends Catherine Shanahan and Stephanie Ferdman, who invited her to attend a Mother’s Council breakfast. Laura vividly recalls the impact that the speaker’s testimony had on her that morning – “His name was Paul, and he was there to represent his sister who couldn’t be there because she was murdered in front of her three children by her abuser.” Being a new mother herself, Laura could not believe that this could happen to someone:

“I was so profoundly moved and thought to myself ‘This is something that needs to change.'”

INTERVIEW

Is there any particular program or project at Sanctuary that you are most passionate about? 

I am definitely moved and inspired by Sanctuary’s Economic Empowerment Program [EEP] and the impact that it has across generations. It has inspired me to advocate for more opportunities within businesses and companies for women who have been traumatized, women who are raising children and teaching them what it means to be strong, what it means to be a warrior.

I think EEP’s impact is two-fold: It provides survivors with the technical skills needed to secure career-track jobs and build the financial resources that are so essential to families that have suffered from violence. It also gives survivors a whole new level of confidence and satisfaction, making them feel viable and capable of lending themselves to greater things, of changing the direction of their children’s lives for the better.

My favorite events are, obviously, the EEP graduation ceremonies. Harvard valedictorians have nothing on our graduates, nothing. They are unbelievable. They are a force, and so is Sanctuary.

What changes would you like to see in how we, as a society, address gender-based violence?

I’d like to see it be less stigmatized and to have more opportunities for survivors to speak out as soon as they begin to experience abuse. We need to reach out to communities and talk about these issues in our companies, in our families, because isolation is one of the biggest problems when it comes to domestic violence.  

I also think there is little awareness of the barriers that survivors face. Leaving their abusers is simply the first step in an arduous journey – Here you are, jumping from a traumatizing situation into another daunting, uphill battle, and it seems like you might never reach the top.

Finally, we need to improve the services available to child survivors of violence. Although they have been traumatized at such a young age, hopefully, with the right treatment, they will be able to alter the course of their lives and become empowered. It is especially vital for them to understand that they are not deserving of such violence, that they are not to blame for what they have had to endure.

The theme for this year’s Annual Benefit is #WeAreSanctuary. What does being a part of Sanctuary mean to you?

What I love most about Sanctuary is that it recognizes the individual challenges faced by each survivor and addresses them accordingly – I have never been a part of an organization that was so hands-on in adapting every one of its services to fit their clients’ specific needs. #WeAreSanctuary means being a part of this community of empowered, smart, and incredible individuals who are committed to serving anyone who crosses its threshold.  #WeAreSanctuary captures that passion that I have yet to see anywhere else.

To purchase tickets to our 2019 Annual Benefit, click here.