Editors note: Check out our news podcast, Westford Today wherever you get your podcasts. This article is a rough transcription of a roundtable that was hosted by WestfordCAT.
WESTFORD — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Even as the month comes to a close, a number of town officials echoed the importance of a number of resources available to residents.
Coalition for Non-Violence
Officials and community leaders spoke with WestfordCAT on a number of organizations and resources, such as the Coalition for Non-Violence.
“As a coalition, we get together quarterly and do educational programs in our town and other towns,” Gail Johnson, Westford’s Public Health Nurse and the chair for the Coalition of Non-Violence.
Johnson clarified what domestic violence means to the collation, and the wide net it casts to help residents in need.
“Domestic violence includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, emotional, psychological, verbal, spiritual abuse, bullying and gaslighting.”
The organization also creates a booklet for survivors, which is distributed to police officers responding to domestic violence calls. This booklet is created by Patricia Reppucci, a community volunteer with the Coalition for Non-Violence.
An additional resource that guests highlighted was Alternative House, a non-profit survivor service agency which serves the Greater Lowell area. It serves as a domestic violence shelter and a transitional house.
Aimee LaRochelle, the manager of Alternative House noted the program is more than a shelter for those in need.
“We have a full supervised visitation center and partnerships with police departments,” LaRochelle told WestfordCAT. “We also have a 24-hour hotlines which is always staffed.”
According to LaRochelle, Alternative house served over 900 survivors in 2021 through emergency shelter and educational programming.
Alison Christopher, Westford’s Social Worker, works closely with seniors on a variety of issues, including domestic violence.
“I work with the seniors on any problem or situation that they need to brainstorm around or solve,” Christopher told WestfordCAT. “It’s a wide range of issues, but as it applies to Domestic violence, I may speak with them in person or over the phone, and then I’d refer them to specific programs.”
She continued, “but sometimes that’s not something they’re interested in and would rather speak with me on my own.”
If a survivor of domestic violence is 65 or older, the Office of Elder Affairs works with Christopher to provide aid to the affected senior.
“It just gives an additional support person for someone who might be having difficulty navigating the resources,” she said.
Community Wellness Department
Nicole Laviolette, Westford’s inaugural Community Wellness Coordinator, has been tasked at pulling a number of Westford’s health resources together and promoting each resource to residents.
“Somebody is touched by domestic violence every single day, so being aware of resources is so important,” Laviolette told WestfordCAT.
She continued, “it’s a support for residents within the community to support individual and family needs.”
Live for Liv
Jody Marchand, founder of Live for Liv was unable to speak with WestfordCAT during our roundtable. However, we wanted to feature a piece from our former reporting intern Melanie Duronio.
Durnoio and Marchand speak on Live for Liv and its annual run, which returned in-person for the first time in two years in July.
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