An all-male advisory panel planning benefit gala for Anne Arundel YWCA

Part of weeklong effort against domestic violence

July 07, 1999|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

The local YWCA -- traditionally run by women -- has turned over to 23 men the task of planning a party -- an October gala at the Crofton Country Club for the benefit of domestic violence programs and services.

The unusual advisory committee -- Men Against Domestic Violence -- began meeting last month to plan the 1999 YWCA Week Without Violence campaign Oct. 17-23.

The weeklong public awareness campaign will begin Oct. 15 with La Fiesta de la Familia, a Celebration of Family, at the country club. The committee will organize other events during the week and throughout October, which is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

While the county recorded no deaths related to domestic violence last year, it has two so far this year, said Michele J. Hughes, YWCA executive director.

Those incidents prompted YWCA organizers who had been considering formation of such a committee to move on the idea, Hughes said.

National YWCA bylaws do not allow men on its board of directors, Hughes said, but this committee could help bring the male perspective to the board.

"We are hopeful that this is going to be a standing, permanent committee," she said. "We want at least some of the members to stay involved beyond October to advise the YWCA."

Some are volunteers, others are people busy in the community recruited for the job.

She said she is looking to two of the men, county Police Chief P. Thomas Shanahan and State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, to guide the group.

"The long-term goal is prevention," Hughes said. "We know we just have to break the cycle. This is another way to work on prevention rather than just treating the problem as it occurs."

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