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Area men to be honored for work against domestic violence

Eighteen area men from all walks of life will be honored Friday for taking a stand against domestic violence, at the annual Power of Purple luncheon at the Norwich Holiday Inn.

"Let Us Honor These Good Men" is the theme of this year's luncheon. The awareness campaign to end domestic violence was founded in 2013 by the Rose Conrad Memorial Fund and Safe Futures, in partnership with Hadassah American Affairs of Eastern Connecticut.

"Every year we try to think of a theme that's going to be as exciting and meaningful as the last year's one," said Sheila Horvitz, founder of the Rose Conrad Memorial Fund and chairwoman of the Power of Purple campaign. "I  think with the #MeToo movement and #TimesUp, more and more of us are talking about the fact that we must have men with us in a partnership to end domestic violence. There are so many men in the community who get it, but we have a long way to go. Every nine seconds, there's an incident of abuse in this country."

Horvitz said the organizers interviewed each of the men for a video/slide show that will be broadcast at the luncheon. Playing off of the "I Choose" campaign started last year by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence to engage boys and men in prevention efforts, the interviewers asked each man to make a statement about why they choose to be involved.

The first honoree to make an "I Choose" statement was the late William Wernau, affectionately known as "Mr. Safe Futures," who died suddenly in January. Wernau was a longtime volunteer who ran a men's engagement group and helped with fundraising and awareness programs.

The other honorees are: Kevin Barney, a Mashantucket police officer; Brian Bartelli, owner of Bartelli Home Improvement in Waterford; Patrick Daley, chief of the Norwich Police Department; James Epps of Dominion Energy; Michael Graner, superintendent of Groton schools and former superintendent in Ledyard and Putnam; Ignacio Heredia, educator at Planned Parenthood of Southern New England; Dr. William Horgan, an emergency medicine doctor at The William W. Backus Hospital; and Frederick Douglas Knowles, a poet and professor at Three Rivers Community College.

Brett Mahoney, chief of the Waterford Police Department; Jeffrey V. Nixon, chief of the Groton Long Point Police Department; Roger Parkman, a real estate broker; Juan Roman, head football coach at New London High School; Richard Sawyer, sergeant of the Groton Town Police; Patrick Sheehan-Gaumer, violence-prevention educator at Safe Futures; Sam Spatafore, co-pastor of the Thames River Church in New London; Darren Stewart, chief of the Stonington Police Department; and Brian Wright, captain of the New London Police Department and commander of investigative services, also will be honored.

The luncheon is from noon to 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 and can be obtained by emailing Horvitz at or calling her at (860) 884-8945.


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