Jerry Vandeveer and his wife, Linda, have turned a piece of misfortune into an idea to help the community.
A year ago Vandeveer, who owns the Wood Shack, 444 W. Baker St., created a sign to bring awareness to domestic violence. The sign read “Real Men Don't Abuse, They Protect.” The sign had been on display in front of the business until three weeks ago when two girls in a purple car took the sign. The Vandeveers were able to see the theft on their security camera, and ran a picture on Facebook. But they assumed the girls must have known someone who needed the sign.
A friend of theirs, Jen Ramos of “Ramos Apparel” saw their post and made them a new sign; six days later a man in a white car stole it. Mike Sweet, a New Haven Police officer, suggested they sell the signs and give the profits to the Women's Bureau. Which is what they have decided to do.
Starting this Saturday the sign will be available for $10 at the Wood Shack and the Women's Bureau. For the first 50 signs they will donate the total cost of the sign; after that they will donate $7.22 per sign so they can cover the costs of making them. Ramos is donating all the labor to make the signs. Jerry Vandeveer is hopeful it will take off like the bumper stickers did after 9/11 so they can give the Women's Bureau a real financial boost.
“Domestic Violence and bullying is something we can control. There is help available, and it is free,” Jerry Vandeveer said.
The couple is also planning to create a T-shirt that will have the slogan inside a heart on the left side. However, when those will be ready and their cost have not been decided.
The Vandeveer, along with their grandson, will be participating in the Women's Bureau's sixth annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event Sept. 21 at Headwaters Park. This unique event allows men to walk a mile in red high-heel shoes to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. From 2007 through 2011 the event raised $452,000. It is the bureau's largest fundraiser of the year.
The event starts with registration at 8 a.m. followed by the walk at 10 a.m. To participate costs $35 for individuals; teams of six or more can sign up at a cost of $30 per individual. For individual student walkers the fee is $25 and for students teams of six or more each individual must pay $20.
The nonprofit agency advocates for the survivors of sexual assault and works to prevent further incidents through empowerment, education and advocacy. All money raised goes to their rape awareness program REACT, which is actually four programs that include community outreach, education, and defense programs, as well as free clinical counseling for victims of assault and their family and friends. For more information or to sign up for the event go to womensbureau.org.