The first half of 2021 has seen several exciting new ventures for DVSN, and we are looking forward to a few more coming up soon!

DVSN’s Speaker Series

We kicked off 2021 with a new program. COVID-19 health concerns unfortunately prevented us gathering for our annual Appreciation Breakfast in 2020 but we were able to transition the speaker portion of that event to the virtual sphere and create DVSN’s Speaker Series. A digital platform allowed us to expand to three events with different topics and invite the public at large to attend them.

The January presentation, “The Chaos of COVID: A Tsunami of Needs in the Wake of the Crisis”, brought together a panel of local community partners to explain how the pandemic affected basic needs in the area. Bethany Hadvab, Board of Health Social Worker for Sudbury, spoke about how the pressures and forced isolation of COVID restrictions exacerbated domestic violence. Jeanine Calabria, Executive Director of Open Table, talked about how her organization adapted to meet rising food-service needs and access issues. Detective Ian Spencer, Lincoln Police Department School Resource Officer, shared the police perspective on this unprecedented situation, especially relating to his work with students.

Our second event in March, “Fostering Resilience in Children who Experience the Devastating Impact of Domestic Violence” focused in more on the effect on children who witness abuse. School Psychologist Joel Ristuccia spoke in depth about both the impact on children and ways to help them.

The third and final Speaker Series presentation was May’s “Navigating the Court System: Behind the Mystique”. Suzanne Kontz Wiseman, Senior Trial Counsel for the Middlesex District Attorney, gave a detailed description of how the courts are set up and what happens in domestic violence related cases. She also discussed the requirements and procedures of obtaining restraining orders.

All three of these events were recorded and can be viewed anytime at We had a good amount of interest and high registration numbers, so we are looking into bringing you more Speaker Series events in the future.

Sisters of the Phoenix

Another new program for DVSN really hit its stride over the winter. Carole Thompson and Sherry Katz have led two ten-week virtual support groups for survivors in our communities. A third group is due to start shortly. Participants in these first sessions expressed a desire to continue connecting regularly. This grew into a monthly alumni group and an online forum, “The Sisters of the Phoenix”, will soon be up and running. Future alumni will be welcome to join these as well to remain in touch with their fellow survivors.

A Growing Staff

New programs and needs brought new part time employees to DVSN around the turn of the year. As Director of Resilience and Empowerment Initiatives, Carole Thompson has been running the support groups and will also work on another program DVSN is developing to support and empower children of high-risk clients. Teresa Horwitz came on board as Development and Financial Coordinator, tracking income and expenses and connecting with community supporters, donors, and sponsors. While she had been contracting with DVSN for most of 2020, Alexandra Hopwood became an employee in 2021. As Digital Media Manager, Alex deals with DVSN’s online presence: social media, adding to the website, producing DVSN’s newsletters, and, yes, this blog…

New Normal, New Space

As more and more public places return to pre-pandemic operations, DVSN is moving forward to another “new normal”. Many necessary COVID changes remain for us. Our staff will continue working remotely a little longer while we await availability of our new office space. DVSN will be returning to full functionality in a different location but our services and commitment remain the same.

Ice Cream Flavor Contest

Danny’s Place and West Side Creamery joined forces again this spring on their 2nd Annual Ice Cream Flavor Contest. Community members were asked to submit flavors and the public voted on their favorites. Five-year-old Rowan May’s submission, “Donut You Know”, was chosen as the winner.

This yummy vanilla ice cream with homemade glazed donut chunks and a caramel core became available for a limited time starting June 14th. Proceeds from this year’s flavor will benefit DVSN! A group of our staff, Advocates, and board members gathered on release day to try the winning frozen treat. Thanks to Danny’s Place and West Side Creamery for supporting DVSN!

Website Updates

DVSN is continually updating our website with new events and information. This blog comes out every month and is always available at We continue to maintain Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts regularly. If you’re not on social media, you can find all our inspiring quotes, educational articles, and powerful infographics in the News & Events section of our website. Plus, we’ll occasionally post organization updates to our LinkedIn page and videos to our YouTube channel.

New on the website, you can now find all of our monthly newsletters! If you’re not already on our mailing list, you can sign up at the bottom of this post to get each new blog entry, upcoming events, community supporter information, and a sample of our social media direct to your inbox. Check out or revisit old newsletters at

A Treasury of Tips & Tidbits 

Though COVID restrictions are gradually lifting, DVSN made the call to once again go virtual with our annual Celebration of Hope Benefit for 2021. Looking forward to returning to normal, in-person gatherings, we already have a date locked down for next year’s brunch. Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 30, 2022! Last year’s “20 Days in 2020” virtual fundraiser was a rousing success. We are once again venturing into exciting new territory for this year. Currently in production is a collection of activities, events, places, recipes, art, and poetry submitted by the DVSN community. These may be anything that has been particularly meaningful, healing, relaxing, or joyful for the submitter during these trying times.

“ReEmerge, ReConnect, ReInvent: DVSN’s Treasury of Tips & Tidbits” will be a beautiful booklet we will distribute to supporters – a gift from us to you. If you’re on our mailing list, you’ll receive a physical copy in the mail or a digital copy in your inbox depending on what contact info we have for you. There will also be an option to request a copy for anyone who donates to DVSN during this event.

Advocates Returning 

Advocates are an essential part of DVSN. Understandably, many of our wonderful volunteers stepped back from their roles during the COVID crisis. With extensive precautions in place, a small but dedicated group of Advocates continued to take shifts and assist clients. Thanks to them, DVSN has been able to meet every request for service throughout the pandemic. We are so grateful! As COVID risks retreat, we have begun the process of reorienting and refreshing training for any Advocates who wish to reactivate their work with us. Many have expressed a desire to return and will soon be back on the roster taking shifts. Welcome back!

Training Coming Soon 

As previous Advocates return to DVSN, so too are we looking forward to welcoming new Advocates. Prior to the pandemic, DVSN held extensive 50-hour trainings twice a year for those interested in becoming Advocates and for community partners looking to improve their knowledge of domestic violence. Because these trainings work best in person and when we would once again be able to bring on new Advocates remained uncertain, three training cycles have passed us by. Feeling we have finally reached a point when trainings are again feasible and necessary, DVSN staff are working through logistics and searching for venues to hold a training no later than this fall. If you or someone you know is interested in attending, keep an eye out for more information coming soon!

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