AUGUSTA – As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to an end, the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) is recognizing individuals who have contributed significantly towards creating safety and justice for survivors of domestic abuse and violence with its Champions of Change Awards. The awards were given virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first honoree is the late Juliet Holmes-Smith, who had a long career as an attorney working on behalf of survivors of domestic abuse. Most recently, in her role as the Executive Director of Maine’s Volunteer Lawyer’s Project Juliet focused on expanding access to pro bono representation for survivors of abuse, working alongside MCEDV and other partners to recruit volunteer attorneys to the cause. In addition to expanding options for representation, she was an active voice at many influential policy tables. MCEDV’s Public Policy Director Andrea Mancuso speaks of Juliet’s contributions: “In working with survivors across the state to get survivors referred for help, recruiting pro bono attorneys, cheerleading the need for pro bono attorneys, training these attorneys to effectively work with survivors, and lifting up at every opportunity the gaps that still exist in our civil legal system for survivors who rely on the courts of their long-term safety, Juliet truly was a Champion of Change.” Juliet passed away in August, and she is dearly missed. View her tribute video here.
MCEDV is also honoring the advocates who work and volunteer at its nine member programs across the state. Since COVID-19 arrived in Maine, advocates have demonstrated immense resiliency and creativity to maintain and transform core services to meet the needs of this current moment. “The 24/7 support that advocates offer never faltered when COVID-19 arrived in Maine – not for one moment. In fact, all areas of advocacy have become more complex, just as the needs and the outreach has increased, and advocates have again and again risen to meet the challenges,” says Francine Garland Stark, MCEDV’s Executive Director. She adds, “Even during the pandemic, volunteers have continued to come forward and sign up to join this movement by answering the helpline. Advocates truly are extraordinary people, and they deserve to be recognized.” View their tribute video here.
Each year during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, MCEDV awards the Champions of Change awards in recognition of community partners who have made significant contributions to changing the way Mainers understand and respond to domestic abuse and violence.
About the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence:
The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) mobilizes collaborative community action with and on behalf of a statewide network of Domestic Violence Resource Centers to ensure that all people affected by domestic abuse and violence in Maine are restored to safety and that perpetrators are held accountable. MCEDV builds partnerships that promote public policy, education, and systems advocacy to create and encourage a social, political, and economic environment that fosters communities where the diversity, dignity, and contributions of all are respected and celebrated, and domestic abuse and violence no longer exist.