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Nonprofit’s event honors domestic violence survivors

Ashley Morales

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Shakura Ogletree and her children escaped a violent situation in 2022. Ogletree is this year's keynote speaker at the 22nd Annual Hope Villages of America Faces of Domestic Violence Luncheon. Photo provided.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 37.9% of Florida women and 29.3% of Florida men will be victims of domestic violence by family members or a partner in their lifetime. A Tampa Bay charity organization hopes to tackle the issue through a yearly event held during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Sponsored by Hope Villages of America, a local nonprofit committed to aiding victims of domestic violence, the 22nd annual Faces of Domestic Violence Luncheon will take place Tuesday (Oct. 3) at the Central Park Performing Arts Center in Largo. Ticket sales have ended.

The event raises funds to support the nonprofit’s vital services, including its Emergency Safe House and Outreach Center, which offers free and confidential assistance to survivors of domestic violence.

Nick DiCeglie, President and CEO of Hope Villages of America, expressed the importance of community support in times of crisis. “Our luncheon, dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, embodies the spirit of solidarity and compassion,” DiCeglie said in a prepared statement. “Together, as a united force, we can be a source of hope and healing in the lives of survivors.”

More than 150 guests are expected to attend. Each year, the luncheon features a keynote speaker who is a survivor of domestic violence, providing an impactful insight into the immense challenges and danger faced by those trying to escape violent situations. 

This year’s keynote speaker is Shakura Ogletree, a domestic violence survivor from Pinellas County. “Until now, I have chosen to remain silent and just focus on the days ahead, but now I feel like it’s best to speak out because there’s a lot of women who don’t make it back from situations like this,” she said. “That’s why I have to tell my story, because there was one point in this situation that I thought I was dead. I thought I was gone, and I thought this man took me away from my kids. I have to speak out.”

Founded in 1967, Hope Villages of America operates through three integrated divisions: Food Distribution and Basic Needs, Housing Stability Services, and Abuse Services. These divisions collectively serve over 150,000 people in Tampa Bay every year, offering a comprehensive range of services to survivors of abuse, including crisis intervention, counseling, and legal advocacy. The organization’s unwavering commitment extends beyond helping survivors; it works tirelessly to raise awareness about domestic violence, and to develop proactive strategies to prevent it.

“No one has the power to try to take away your life just because they’re unhappy with theirs,” Ogletree said. “That’s why I’m taking a stance. Nobody can take my power.”

For the latest updates and additional information about Hope Villages of America and its services, visit their website at hopevillagesofamerica.org or call at 727-584-3528.

1 Comment

1 Comment

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    S. Rose smith-Hayes

    October 3, 2023at1:46 pm

    This is an issue that does not get enough attention. Thank you for publishing.

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