Berks Women in Crisis (BWIC) presented its Voices for Change award to three outstanding Berks Countians at its Celebration of Peace fundraiser Monday evening, Dec. 13.
State Sen.Michael O'Pake, Cindy Boscov and the late Ned Diefenderfer received the award.
The fifth annual reception was held at the Yashek Social Hall of Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom in Wyomissing.
BWIC presents the Voices for Change Award annually to individuals or organizations whose work has made a significant contribution to further the mission of the agency: to provide supportive services for victims and eliminate domestic and sexual violence in Berks County.
The first honoree, state Sen. Michael O'Pake, has worked at the state level for a better Berks County community for more than 40 years.
Despite the economic challenges of the past year, O'Pake has continued to champion for the projects of Berks Women in Crisis that most benefit the women and children we serve.
Because of a recent hospital stay, the senator was unable to accept the award in person, so Bill Evans, a staff member, accepted in his stead.
"Today, many of us view the idea of true public service as a myth, a legend that belongs in days gone by. To Sen. O'Pake, it is a way of life," said Catherine Feiler, vice president of BWIC's board of directors.
The second honoree, Cindy Boscov, volunteers for BWIC and personifies a model of community activism. Boscov has supported BWIC's prevention-education programs, including CAMPpeaceworks, and her contributions have made a significant impact on the agency and its programs.
"Although the work she has done for us at BWIC has been extremely important, what is even more important is her sincere belief in the value of the programs we offer," Helen Najarian, co-chair of the BWIC Capital Campaign Cabinet, told attendees as she introduced Boscov. "Her presence, her support and her dedication affirms us, strengthens us and inspires us."
Third, we honored the late Ned Diefenderfer, who as secretary of the Wyomissing Foundation and director of the Berks County Capital Campaign Review Board, understood the critical nature of the need for adequate safe shelter for victims of domestic violence in our community.
He also understood the significant challenges BWIC faced in raising funds to build the new center and offered support and guidance in the critical phases of the campaign.
"The Board and staff at BWIC were understandably concerned about the prospect for success in this climate," said honorary campaign Chairwoman Carolyn Holleran, who presented the award. "Ned, however, remained convinced that BWIC's need, so clear and so critical, would move this community to action."
Accepting for her father was Diefenderfer's daughter Kristin Kearney, chief operating officer of St. Joseph Medical Group, who, with emotion catching in her voice, expressed gratitude for BWIC's appreciation of her father's dedication to helping others.
She expounded on how her father did what he did not for the accolades but because he loved to share his knowledge and influence to help others where the need was the greatest.
In her opening remarks, BWIC executive director Mary Kay Bernosky gave the audience an update on the BWIC capital campaign, which stands at $2.75 million dollars, including $250,000 secured by O'Pake.
Earlier this fall, BWIC secured a Kresge Foundation matching grant that provides $250,000 in funding if the agency matches that amount by December 2011.
Groundbreaking for the new BWIC center was Oct. 13. Construction by Dolan Construction Inc. will begin shortly, and BWIC expects to move in September 2011.
Penn National Gaming sponsored the Celebration of Peace, enabling Berks Women in Crisis to realize significant income from the event toward agency operating costs.
Maria DiCecco from Celebrated Occasions donated a portion of her catering fees. Sweet Street Desserts donated deserts.
The event concluded with a vocal selection, "I See You," from the film "Avatar," sung by BWIC Safe House staff member Mereliss Colón Ortiz. BWIC leadership and staff wish to express their gratitude for all who helped to make the event a success!