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ATL Business Chronicle

Column: Effort aims to reduce violence against women

By Maria Saporta
Friday, October 16, 2009

The Atlanta-based organization Men Stopping Violence has just received a major vote of confidence.

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson is announcing that Men Stopping Violence has been awarded $500,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice to organize and manage the first national initiative to engage men and youth in the work of addressing violence against women.

“It’s very exciting,” said Shelley Serdahely, executive director of Men Stopping Violence, about the two-year grant. “We will work with the Department of Justice to create the program. It will be based on the work we’ve already been doing for many years.”

Men Stopping Violence first will conduct a national inventory of what different communities are doing to engage men in the effort to prevent violence against women.

Then the Department of Justice will solicit proposals from around the country from entities seeking funding to implement or expand programs, and it will award grants to selected agencies and organizations.

“Men Stopping Violence will have the job of providing training and technical assistance to those organizations, including providing materials and sharing best practices,” Serdahely said. She added that the Justice Department had “particular confidence in MSV’s director of training — Ulester Douglas, who will manage this project.

MSV has been in existence for 28 years, and over the years, it has changed its focus from an intervention agency to a prevention agency. It is working with men to create communities where it is clear that disrespect and violence against womenis not acceptable.

As Serdahely said: “One in three women will be battered or sexually abused at one point in their lives.”

Days of Giving

The Wells Fargo approach to giving is having its Atlanta debut.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo, which has acquired Wachovia Bank, is launching a “Days of Giving” program in the Atlanta market where each branch and business center is giving grass-roots organizations $1,000 grants to help improve their communities.

Wells Fargo, which has had a Days of Giving program on the West Coast since 1999, has selected Atlanta as its first city on the East Coast to have such a program. The bank will be holding five local community celebrations over the next 10 days and will give out 208 grants to 180 different philanthropic organizations. (Some branches selected the same organizations.)

“Atlanta is absolutely important to Wells Fargo, but I also think the new Wells Fargo will be an important community player in Atlanta,” said Jerome Byers, Atlanta regional president for Wachovia.

Wachovia has the second-largest market share among banks in the region, and the Atlanta market is the third-largest for the entire Wells Fargo system, after San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Byers said the new program will help the bank have both a “macro and a micro” approach to philanthropy in the Atlanta market.

Wachovia will continue to support larger initiatives — such as the Atlanta Beltline, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, Grady Hospital, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc. and the Woodruff Arts Center. But on a micro-level, it also will touch customers at the most local level — its branches. As an example, one of the grantees will be the North Georgia Angel House, which provides a home for 15 girls in state supervision in Waleska.

Byers said this program only reinforces the bank’s intent to remain a strong civic player in Atlanta.

In 2009, the bank’s giving in Atlanta “will be north of $5 million,” Byers said.

“I expect [giving] in 2010 to be greater than in 2009, and 2009 to be better than 2008,” say Byers, adding that some gifts for this year are still in the works. “We want to be a great company here in Atlanta. To do that, we have to not just be a key giver on major projects. We have to also not neglect our grass-roots responsibility.”

Neighborhood Excellence

Speaking of banks and giving: Bank of America announced Oct. 14 grants totalling $400,000 to two key Atlanta nonprofits — the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Pan Asian Community Services. Both will receive unrestricted grants to help support their operations.

The gifts are part of the bank’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, which is investing a total of $20 million around the world in 2009. The initiative has been established to help sustain nonprofits during the difficult economy — where resources have decreased yet the needs have increased.

Making the announcement for Bank of America in Atlanta was Brian Moynihan, head of consumer banking. Incidentally, he is thought to be a contender to succeed Ken Lewis as CEO of Bank of America.

Metro Chamber more effective

The Metro Atlanta Chamber is on a mission to operate more like a business.

Its latest move is hiring Pam Beckerman as its new vice president of human resources. Beckerman, who most recently has been director of human resources for Kurt Salmon Associates, has worked in human resources for 30 years.

Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, said this completes a multi-pronged effort that’s been under way at the chamber for the past year.

First, it hired the Zyman Consulting Group to help fine-tune its message. Next, it established the New Economy Task Force, and worked with Bain Consulting, to make sure it was targeting the right industries and addressing challenges to the region’s economic development strategies. Then, it hired Bixler Consulting Group to help improve its internal operations. That led to the hiring of Beckerman, who will implement many of Bixler’s recommendations.

“This really completes the whole program to be more effective than we’ve been in the past,” Williams said. “We want to push the organization. I feel like we have a good business plan; we have a brand; and we know how to manage it. We are working to improve the quality of our organization.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.


1 Comment

  1. Suzee2253 October 20, 2009 6:18 pm

    According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, which includes crimes that were not reported to the police, 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day! There are many factors that contribute to the increasing numbers of women being violently assaulted. The economic decline, foreclosures, and the highest unemployment rates in years have all triggered an atmosphere of anger, desperation and hopelessness.

    Prevention of violence against women needs to start within the family. Parents must take the time in educating their sons to respect the opposite sex as well as teaching them that equality is true across all cultures, races, and religions. In turn, female members of a family unit need to be taught self-respect and that they have the power to control the destiny of their lives without fear of intimidation and violence. Women and girls need to be taught how to protect themselves whether it is through self-defense classes or carrying a personal protection device such as a stun gun, pepper spray, mace, or TASER.

    At the end of the day, violence against women is not going away anytime soon, at least until there is tough law reform on how predators are prosecuted and sentenced. The ignorance from cultural beliefs, prejudice and in some respect media images of women as being the inferior sex all are contributing factors to the victimization of women on a global level. We also need to realize that there is not one factor to blame but a collective response from hundreds of years of intolerance, discrimination and chauvinism.

    Susan Fredricks is co-founder for http://www.stingergirlz.com, a woman-owned business which is the largest supplier in of personal protection and home security products in the San Diego, CA area.Report


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