Vero leaders ask others to Man-Up Against Domestic Violence

VERO BEACH – Six Vero Beach men – business leaders, civic activists and professionals who travel in different circles, have come together in a power partnership as honorary co-chairs of SafeSpace’s Second Annual Every Woman is My Sister luncheon, Friday, March 11 at Community Church of Vero Beach. Representing many facets of the Vero Beach community, the Vero Beach “Man-Up” team creates a powerful, unified voice against domestic violence. The team is Dr. Clark Beckett, Chief of Staff of Indian River Medical Center, Tom Lockwood, chairman of the Indian River County Republican Party, Sheriff Deryl Loar, Tom Manwaring, chair of the Indian River United Way board and Developmental Education Specialist at Indian River State College, Bob Schlitt, President of Schlitt Services Inc., and Bill Penney, President and CEO of Marine Bank and Trust.

“There’s no question that domestic violence affects all parts of our community,” said Penney, who also served as SafeSpace’s emcee at its Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in October. “We see its effects, not only on the victims but on children, families and society in general through many of the United Way’s partner agencies.” Penney is a former chairman of the Indian River United Way board.

This year’s keynote speaker is a man who experienced domestic violence firsthand throughout his childhood. As a teen growing up in Miami, Victor Rivas Rivers survived by deflecting his father’s rage away from his mother and siblings and toward himself. The angry teen transformed with the help of his community, who gave him safety and showed him love.

A standout FSU football player and first Cuban American to play with the Miami Dolphins, Victor Rivas Rivers is best known for his numerous movie roles, including Blood In/Blood Out, the Mask of Zorro and as Eddy Murphy’s sidekick in The Distinguished Gentleman. Following publication of his acclaimed memoirs A Private Family Matter, Rivers has been a spokesman for the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

SafeSpace opened its first shelter 30 years ago in Vero Beach after a community task force stepped up to address domestic violence. Through SafeSpace’s Man-Up team, the community is stepping up once again.

“We’re coming together to say that the rise in domestic violence in our community is unacceptable,” said Schlitt, who is secretary of the SafeSpace board. “I’m looking for other men from Indian River County to join us at the luncheon to stand against domestic violence.”

Tickets are $125 each.

To reserve a seat, call Tracy Levy at 772-223-2399.

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