Help Portal To Hope
Portal To Hope (PTH), the award-winning nonprofit organization serving domestic violence crime victims in Everett, Lynn, Medford, Malden, Winthrop and neighboring Massachusetts communities, is facing a 27% budget cut effective July 1. Already operating as a small-funded nonprofit, PTH relies on $179,900 in federal funding from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to serve an average of 900 people each year.
Drastic cuts to VOCA will leave PTH to operate on $131,490 in fiscal year 2023 – a severe reduction. Considering that PTH spends less than 5% on administrative costs where its management team already volunteers time to carry-out administrative functions in order to dedicate funds for direct care service programs, the 27% budget cut will strap the organization and eliminate its Emergency Shelter program. “In talking with the public, they are as perplexed as we are as to why government keeps cutting funding to agencies serving some of our most vulnerable community members – especially when they realize all the helpful services that we provide,” said Linda Morris, a survivor who has been sharing her time as a Victim Advocate at PTH for seventeen years. “As a survivor whose own life was impacted by a family member killed by her abuser, I struggle to understand why PTH and similar agencies are forced to beg for funding every year,” said Morris.
VOCA funding is administered by the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA); and MOVA announced that 124 programs and 220 victim services jobs across the Commonwealth are impacted by the drastic cuts to VOCA funds. “A state investment is critically needed to sustain and stabilize victim services across the Commonwealth to continue supporting victims and survivors,” announced MOVA.
PTH’s Founder, Deborah Fallon, a survivor of violent crime, is appreciative of the work that MOVA and the Victim and Witness Assistance Board (VWAB), which is chaired by Attorney General Maura Healey, are doing in partnership with the Massachusetts Legislature to bridge the funding gap via the “VOCA Bridge Act”. “MOVA and VWAB have been outstanding partners in our work serving people impacted by violent crime,” said Fallon. “Every person has the right to live free from abuse, and while PTH and like programs are already inundated and focused-in on providing direct care services to people, we look to MOVA, VWAB and our legislators as our advocates in helping us to remain fully funded.”
MOVA announced that the Massachusetts Legislature named a Conference Committee to “reconcile differences between the House and Senate final budgets”. Conference Committee members are: Representatives Michlewitz, Ferrante, and Smola and Senators Rodrigues, Friedman, and O’Connor. MOVA continues to advocate for a fully-funded VOCA Bridge to sustain services for victims and survivors and is “requesting that the Conference Committee maintain the $20M investment included in the House budget to bridge one-year of impending cuts” to VOCA funded programs for fiscal year 2023.
To help support these efforts, please call PTH (781) 338-7678 or email [email protected] “Over the course of our own lives, many of us, unfortunately, will know of someone whose life has been impacted by domestic violence crime. We are reaching-out to people to call their legislators to ask that they support the fully-funded intentions of the VOCA Bridge Act passed by the Massachusetts House,” said Fallon. “We appreciate the public’s support.” For more information about MOVA, please visit www.mass.gov/mova. For more information about PTH, please visit www.portaltohope.org.
Portal To Hope
Celebrate Pride Month
As we enter the month of June, it is critical that Winthrop LGBTQI+ residents, our many allies and surrounding towns, and cities show strong visibility of the LGBTQI+ community. It is also important to remember that our pride is not limited to a specific month. It is three hundred sixty-five days a year. My husband and I have lived in this community now for eight years and we have always made certain to be visible as a same-sex couple.
In 2021, the very first LGBTQI+ pride flag in Winthrop’s history was flown outside at town hall. Making this happen was a collaborative effort by residents, community leaders and members of the town council. It was an absolute must do in showing our visibility, presence and raising awareness. Winthrop has a very vibrant, strong, large, and active population of LGBTQI+ residents. The pride flag raising event was attended by residents, community leaders and various members of town council. Former Senator Joseph Boncore attended, read a proclamation for Pride month, and acknowledged the importance of the flag’s presence here in Winthrop. Most people understand that the LGBTQI+ flag is one of unity, peace and diversity. It does not marginalize anyone nor is it a symbol of hate, which is why thousands of communities across the US and around the globe remain unafraid to display it.
On June 25, 2021, the Winthrop LGBTQI+ Pride + group hosted an event at the Viking Pub. The turnout was better than ever expected. It was an evening filled with positivity, community spirit and empowerment. Several members of the town council were in attendance, and some even brought their amazing spouses to the event. In September of 2021, the group hosted a sunset unity cruise on the Winthrop Ferry. The cruise was open to all residents. Tickets sold out in eight days. It was another incredible event and a way to acknowledge the visibility of the LGBTQI+ community and its many allies. It was an evening that all in attendance still talk about a year later.
After the Pride flag was displayed at town hall, there was some backlash in the community. It happens. No city or town is immune. The backlash put no damper on the positivity, amazing spirit, and feelings of goodwill that came out of the Pride flag’s visibility here in Winthrop. We are now in 2022 Pride month. Many communities around Winthrop have held Pride flag raising ceremonies; the City of Lynn will have their ceremony on Tuesday, June 21st with the flag being flown at Lynn City Hall. The City of Peabody will hold its flag raising ceremony on June 11th at City Hall. The City of Beverly’s flag raising event will commence on Tuesday, June 7. The City of Revere held their flag raising at Revere City Hall on Wednesday, June 1st. The Pride flag was raised on the same pole as the US flag. Senator Lydia Edwards, who also represents Winthrop, was on hand at the Revere flag raising and made very poignant remarks along with Mayor Brian Arrigo, and several others.
This year there will not be a Pride flag displayed at Winthrop Town Hall or on any town property. It will be a process for things to evolve here, but it will happen. At the present time, only the US and POW/MIA flags will be displayed on town property.
Let us make Pride month memorable. We enthusiastically encourage all members of Winthrop’s LGBTQI+ community and its many, many allies to show your pride and support by displaying either a Pride flag or Pride yard sign outside your residence. With unity comes strength and positivity, and hopefully even enlightenment.
Taking a Lesson
June is Pride Month, and last year Winthrop flew the Pride Flag at town hall for the first time. Apparently a nod of support for LGBTQ+ Winthrop residents was a bridge too far for some, and soon afterwards the Town Council approved an ordinance banning any ‘special interest’ flags from town property.
Meanwhile, nearly all our neighboring municipalities not only flown the flag, but are celebrating Pride in a myriad of ways. Perhaps Winthrop can take a page from the following communities:
Boston, Beverly, Cambridge, Chelsea , Danvers, Everett , Gloucester , Lynn, Malden, Marblehead , Medford, Melrose, Newburyport , Peabody, Revere, Rockport, Salem, Salisbury , Swampscott
Gun Regulation Needed
I’m writing concerning the out-of-control number of mass shootings that our country continues to witness in cities and towns across the country. I also want to pro-pose the possible solution of “ban and buy back” that other developed countries have implemented in an effort to prevent mass carnage. In particular, the bought back assault weapons could be sent to the Ukraine to assist that nation in preserving its freedom, land, and people.
On May 29, the “New York Times” reported that 51% of Americans favor a nation-wide ban on the sale of AR-15 (assault) rifles and similar semi-automatic weapons. 32% are opposed, according to a poll this month by The Associated Press and NORC. Three-quarters of Democrats were supportive compared with barely one-quarter of Republicans. I read a figure today that indicated 90% of Democrats support banning high-powered assault weapons like the AR-15.
All countries have their share of mental illness and psychopaths who tediously plan their attacks like the one in the Buffalo, NY supermarket. However, research study after research study has noted that ACCESS to military-style weapons is directly connected to mass shootings. In fact, other developed countries around the world have chosen stricter action to address the public massacre problem. (In addition, our Commonwealth of Mass has tightened its gun laws over the years resulting in coming in first and second in least amount of firearm mortality rates in the nation. “Boston Globe” 06-07-22.)
Specifically, “The Times” noted, “Britain banned semi-automatic weapons and handguns after shootings in 1987 and 1996. Australia held a mandatory gun buy-back after a 1996 massacre, and the rate of mass shootings plummeted. Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Norway all tightened gun laws after horrific crimes,” and mass shootings came down.
From 1994-2004, the US had a ban on military-style weapons and magazines. However, the law had a 10- year sunset clause, and the 2004 Congress failed to continue the ban. Failure to continue the high-capacity gun ban has given us what we all continue to see on the nightly news.
I also have to differ with syndicate writer Dr. Glenn Mollette who, in the June 2 “Sun Transcript” issue, said, “State and federal government must make some real decisions. In the meantime, we have to protect ourselves.” To me, “protecting” myself involves calling the police and working with them to prevent crimes. Otherwise, we’ll continue to find ourselves in a country with a lot of vigilante groups with high-powered weapons “defending” themselves. I would hope, perhaps naively, that there’d be enough AR-15 owners who say to themselves, “I really don’t need this AR-15 to kill a deer this upcoming hunting season. I’ll sell it to the government and give it to the Ukrainian people.”
I wrote President Biden and our Senators Warren and Markey and Congresswoman/Asst. Speaker Katherine Clark about this “ban and buy back” effort. If you agree, maybe you could write or call too.
President Joseph Biden, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC 20500
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 317 Hart Senate Office Bldg, Wash., DC 20510
Sen. Edward Markey, 255 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg., Wash., DC 20510
Asst. House Speaker Congresswoman Katherine Clark, 2448 Rayburn HOB, Wash-ington, DC 20515. Phone: 202-225-2836
Donna Segreti Reilly