For the City Times
About 35 people gathered to remember 47 Wisconsin residents who died due to domestic violence in 2015.
The Wisconsin Rapids Family Center hosted “Remember My Name,” an hour-long event and vigil to remember the victims, who ranged in age from two months to 92 years old.
One of the visual points of the gathering was a table set for eight, featuring stories of several of the victims.
“But there is something different about our table tonight,” Sue Sippel, executive director of The Family Center explained during the event.
“These seats are empty at our table and empty at the table in the home where they used to live,” Sippel said. “When families in these homes gather ‘round this year and in future years, there will be sadness during the ‘good times.’”
Sippel talked about the victims at the table.
“These stories remind us of the potential lethality of domestic violence, but they also offer a call to action,” she said. “Domestic abuse happens in many homes in Wood County. Sometimes it is reported to police; sometimes it is not. The victims are your neighbors, friends, family members, co-workers, and church members.
“So, chances are you know several victims of domestic violence,” she said. “That is why it is so important that you know the resources available to help them and how best to offer that help.
“You are all ‘first responders.’ In order to end domestic violence in our community, however, the call to action requires more work by all of us,” Sippel said.
The event also was an opportunity to thank and honor community members who have supported The Family Center and its mission in the past year.
Honorees included: RaeAnn Thomas (current board member) and Tammi Jepson (past board member), Board Member of the Year Award; Deputy Eric Marten, Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award; Opportunity Development Center’s CommunityConnect, Community Treasure Award; Mark Toyota and WFHR Radio, Above and Beyond for Business Award; and Jeff Sargent of North Central Community Action and Lincoln High School Students, Community Champion Award.
Following the awards and the reading of the poem, “Remember My Name,” those in attendance walked to the riverfront. Guests dropped a flower into the river in memory of the 47 victims, as Family Center staff members read the names of the victims.
The Family Center thanks the members of the Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School Chamber Orchestra for providing music for the event, First Congregational Church United Church of Christ for allowing use of their facilities, Angel Floral & Designs for flowers, and all who attended the event.
Go to http://www.endabusewi.org/sites/default/files/resources/2015_Wisconsin_Domestic_Violence_Homicide_Report_final.pdf to read the full 2015 Wisconsin Domestic Violence Homicide Report.
The Family Center plans to make the vigil and awards ceremony an annual event, held in October to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month.