For the City Times
Submitted by Debi Cleworth
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – More than 50 people attended The Family Center’s second annual “Remember My Name” event at First Congregational Church United Church of Christ on Oct. 5.
The event served two purposes: To remember the almost 60 Wisconsin residents who lost their lives in 2016 due to domestic violence; and to honor community members, organizations and businesses showing outstanding support to The Family Center’s work and mission in 2016.
Sue Sippel, Executive Director of the nonprofit organization, kicked off the evening talking about the almost 60 pairs of empty shoes displayed at the event, each bearing a tag with the name of one of the victims.
“Sadly, in 2016, there was a huge spike in the number of homicides – 56,” Sippel said.
There were 47 deaths in 2015, Sippel said, adding the 2016 number equates to one death every six days.
Each guest at the event received a card with the name of the victim and the circumstances of their death on the back. Sippel shared a couple of the stories, one from Milwaukee, and one from Madison.
“These stories remind us of the potential lethality of domestic violence, but they also offer a call to action,” Sippel said. “Domestic abuse happens in many homes in Wood County – sometimes it is reported to police; sometimes, it is not.”
Sippel also shared just a few of the statistics in End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin’s annual report, released Sept. 25:
- Homicides occurred in 22 counties, including Wood and Marathon;
- Ages ranged from an unborn baby to a 72-year-old woman;
- Most were killed at home or at their perpetrator’s home, with a few occurring in a public place.
Community award honorees included: Wisconsin Rapids Family Center Board Members of the Year: Lonnie Reetz (current), and the late Joseph Bilgrien (past); Law Enforcement Officer of the Year: Grand Rapids Police Chief Melvin Pedersen, and Wood County Sheriff Thomas Reichert; Above & Beyond for Business: Wisconsin Rapids City Times; Community Treasure Award: Coffee with the Clergy group; and Community Champion Award: SWEPS and Trisha Anderson, Wood County Victim Services coordinator.
A PowerPoint presentation featured a photo of each victim during a reading of the poem, “Remember My Name.”
Staff members read the name and age of a victim, while attendees took a flower in their memory, and stood in a silent circle to conclude the event.
The full End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin 2016 Homicide Report is available online clicking the “Resources” link at www.endabusewi.org and on Wisconsin Rapids Family Center, Inc. Facebook page.