DeWitt: Vera House wins grant from Avon

World peace, a cure for breast cancer and an end to domestic violence were some of the many desires written on a wishing wall that won Vera House a $20,000 grant from Avon. The wall was part of a traveling beauty campaign that reached more than 700,000 women in 30 cities nationwide to help raise awareness about domestic violence.

Guests who visited Avon's Hello Tomorrow Beauty Tour set up at the New York State Fair this summer were encouraged to write their wishes for a better tomorrow on the wall. The city that collected the most wishes would win the grant from Avon to benefit its local domestic violence agency.

"Syracuse won by a landslide with over 1,000 wishes collected," said Lindsay Blaker, Avon public relations manager. "One thousand sixty-seven to be exact."

Almost 10,000 wishes were collected during the seven-month tour.

"When we first heard of the possibility of the grant, we recognized it was a national competition, and therefore, the chance of winning was not high," said Vera House Executive Director Randi Bregman. "We were absolutely thrilled when we received the good news that the support of the Syracuse community resulted in [the winnings]."

Bregman said they decided to invest the money in an endowment fund being built through the foundation so it can support its efforts into the future.

Vera House is a not-for-profit organization located in DeWitt that helps women who are victims of domestic violence. It receives more than 350 phone calls to its crisis hotline every month, offers shelter for up to 500 women and children per year, and provides outreach programs as well as therapeutic counseling to women, men and children alike.

"If someone is being hurt or is afraid, just one phone call creates a link to information, support and resources," Bregman said. "If you are in immediate danger, call 911. If you are in a dangerous situation but are safe right now, call the 24-hour hotline 468-3260 and start to explore your options."

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