Anti-violence vigil draws dozens

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Cupping the flames of candles, more than 60 community members braved the wind and weather Wednesday night in downtown Steamboat Springs to quietly protest against domestic violence.

"I think the vigil sends a strong message to victims in the community that there are people who care," said Diane Moore, the executive director of Advocates Against Battering and Abuse, which sponsored the vigil.

Men, women, teen-agers and children met at the Steamboat Springs police station on Ninth Street at 5:45 p.m. to begin their walk down Lincoln Avenue to the Routt County Courthouse.

Participants wore purple ribbons and carried purple balloons that read, "Peace Begins at Home."

"This is not an easy thing to come to," said Michelle Scott, who works with Advocates. "It was great to see so many people from the community."

Once at the courthouse, the participants gathered together under a tent where they lit candles and listened to speakers.

Routt County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak was the first to speak, followed by City Councilman Ken Brenner and Lauren Dargevics, a high school intern at Advocates who read a poem she wrote titled, "I Know Where Peace Begins."

"We've found this vigil a nice way to honor victims and value our community," Moore said. "Women shouldn't feel fear in their own homes, and children shouldn't be afraid."

Advocates provided services to eight victims of domestic violence last Thursday, Moore said, and on Tuesday night, a young mother was beaten by her husband.

"I believe it will take a community to stop violence in the home," said Moore. "The number of people at the vigil gave me hope that a lot of people in the community care."

A seven-piece brass band played "Amazing Grace" as the participants bowed their heads during a moment of silence.

A vase of carnations was passed around and everyone was urged to take a flower in memory of someone who has experienced domestic violence. Tears were shed and smiles were shared among the community members at the vigil.

A display of posters, poems, and other community contributions was set up in the tent area at the courthouse. Local children had drawn pictures of what they felt a happy home looked like, said Dargevics. The pictures were of children riding bikes, jumping on trampolines, and playing with their siblings.

"We had a lot of community involvement," Moore said. Advocates received 500 signatures from people in the community who were willing to stand against domestic violence.

Lila Henry, a local resident who attended the vigil, said she found the ceremony particularly relevant.

"My family originated from abuse," Henry said. "It's important to provide awareness that this is happening all around us. Silence is our worst enemy."

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