Speaker pledges support for victims’ shelter | RecordCourier.com
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Speaker pledges support for victims’ shelter

by Merrie Leininger, staff writer

Speaker Ian Hill challenged Douglas County residents to match his commitment to donate money for a domestic violence shelter at the candlelight vigil Monday night at the Family Support Council.

Hill, of Reno, said action is needed immediately to help end domestic violence, like the violence he witnessed in his adopted family, following a candlelit march from Lampe Park. About 125 people listened as he tearfully recounted how he saw his mother dragged by her hair and beat until she was unrecognizable as he hid under his bed.

“It’s up to regular folks like you and me to ensure no more 8-year-old boys have to hide under their beds,” Hill said. He then turned to the council’s executive director, Karen Edwards, and said he noticed the sign in front of the council office which displayed how much money had been raised for a shelter. “How short are you?”

She told him the group still needs about $100,000.

“There’s $100,000 in our community. I’ll take the next five speeches I do and give the honorariums to the Family Support Council,” Hill said. “This is my fiancee, Gina, and she’ll keep me honest. We need to make sure we say, ‘No more, not in our county.’ What are you going to do?” Hill said.

Hill said he is not a speaker by trade. He works for Sierra Vision Launch, but is often asked to speak to companies and civic organizations. He said he has 26 speeches already booked between now and the end of the year. Hill said he will donate the money he receives from the next five that are scheduled. He receives between $3,000 and $10,000 for each speech.

He said everyone has the ability to do something to stop violence, even if they can’t write a check, and encouraged people to volunteer to do something as simple as answer phones. He compared the men who signed the Declaration of Independence to the people in the crowd.

“The last words are ‘We mutually pledge our lives, our fortune and our honor.’ If we made that level of commitment to wiping out domestic violence, it wouldn’t be around long. Do whatever you have to do to make your community a better place to live. Commitment is what we need. People’s lives are at stake. We cannot stand idly by,” Hill said.

Edwards said she was surprised with Hill’s promise and hopes it inspires others to donate time or money.

“I thought it was awesome. I didn’t have a clue (he was going to do that). I didn’t even know he knew about the shelter fund,” she said. “I hope this just brings more awareness of the needs of victims and of their families and that we really need money to continue to bring these important services to this community.”

Gloria Meyers said she came to the vigil with her daughter, Cheryl, because they had been helping a friend who works for Family Support Council prepare for the event. However, she left with a new desire to help the council and said she will be donating.

“It was very moving. I wish more people would have been here. It would have made a big impact. I didn’t realize there was so much domestic violence in Douglas County. I thought it was a peaceful place. But I guess no one is exempt,” Gloria said.

“What this has done is bring some more awareness to people. The more the council does, the more it comes out of the closet and we have to keep saying ‘We’re not going to take it anymore,’ because so many people don’t know what’s going on,” Cheryl said.

Sheriff Ron Pierini spoke about the rising number of domestic situations his deputies are called to every year.

“Three years ago, I closed my statements by saying, ‘Hopefully, someday we can take these purple ribbons off our lapels.’ We haven’t reached there yet. To give you an idea of where we are, our domestic violence calls were up 25 percent this year. Deputies arrest about 300 people every year. Added to that are 300 more verbal domestic situations. Times that by an unknown factor of the number of situations we don’t know about, and I think it at least triples that,” Pierini said.

Elaine Agnason and Karen Winters and many other members of Soroptimist International of Carson Valley were at the vigil as co-sponsors of the event with Family Support Council.

“I thought it was an excellent night. Ian Hill was very motivating. I have a tear in my eye,” Agnason said.

“Pierini made good points – that the reports are going up, but that could be in part because of increasing awareness and increasing reporting,” Winters said.

– Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Many other events are planned during the month of October.

For the rest of the week, silhouettes will be displayed at the Douglas County Public Library. The silhouettes represent Nevada women who were killed in domestic violence situations.

The effects of domestic violence on the child’s brain will be examined at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Family Support Council, 1255 Waterloo Lane.

Animal Control Director Rhonda Moore will speak about the correlation between domestic violence and animal abuse Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. at the Family Support Council.