B y Jaime Thomas
Under the glow of purple lights in the gazebo in Veterans Park, a few dozen members of the community gathered Monday night.
Led by Sheryl Allen, who brought the event together, and Mayor Brian LaRose the group both remembered and empowered victims of domestic violence.
“Let us not only remember the victims, but let us commit our resources and support to those who have yet to be saved,” LaRose said. The vigil, which sought to honor victims and survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and teen-dating violence, was part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Allen has been at the forefront of the initiative for a while, and several participants lauded her for spreading a message that’s close to her heart.
Kathy Juckett, CEO of Telescope Casual Furniture, told the circle of participants how Allen is constantly available for support.
“When we have a problem where someone comes to work and looks like they’ve been beat up, all I have to do is pick up the phone and call Sherri,” Juckett said. “In a village this size, we don’t realize how lucky we are to have support like that.”
She said the company has seen some “awesome success stories and strong, strong women that have come out,” with help from Allen and the Granville Police Department. But she also mentioned that the problem is by no means resolved.
“The laws protect bad guys more than they protect the victim, and we have a lot to work on in this front,” Juckett said.
Allen stressed that change must come by reaching out early.
“We’re going to change this culture only if we can change the younger generation,” she said, adding that Frank Hoard III’s participation in the effort has had a strong impact. She said his support of the cause in a male-dominated industry is especially effective.
“Frank is a fantastic role model, and I think it’s made a huge difference here. It is getting better,” Allen said.
Hoard brought his Racing to Stop Domestic Violence car to the spaghetti dinner preceding the vigil and then drove it to the park. He said he’s teamed up with Allen and the police department to spread a message on and off the speedway.
“It’s a good way to help someone in a non-hostile, neutral environment,” Hoard said. He and his family speak and give out pamphlets about the subject at different events, and he believes he’s able to reach out to those who don’t want to go as far as a police station.
“We’ve had a few people come and say it helped,” he said.
Both Allen and LaRose thanked those in attendance, saying that they will be the ones to make a difference.
“I’m so grateful you’re all here, because before it was one of those subjects you couldn’t talk about; it was a family issue. Now, that’s changed,” Allen said.
Those interested in learning more about Hoard and his racecar can find Racing to Stop Domestic Violence on Facebook. Those looking to speak with Allen can email firstname.lastname@example.org.