The Coastal Star

Coastal Star: Volunteer’s heart and time help victims of domestic abuse

Gail Veros was inspired to get involved with helping victims of domestic abuse when she was 20, after a roommate was battered by a boyfriend. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Amy Woods

    Five days away at a girlfriend’s lakeside cottage in Ottawa provided a welcome respite for Gail Veros, who maintains a very busy schedule. As the 2016-17 social season shifts into gear in South Florida, so does Veros, a longtime volunteer for Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse.
    Veros has returned to a board of directors position she filled from 2009 to 2012 before rolling off because of term limits. Still, she was never more than a call or an email away as a member of the Delray Beach nonprofit’s advisory board for the four following years.
    Now, not only will she resume attending monthly meetings, she also will chair the advisory board and serve on the committee for the Heart of a Woman Luncheon.
    “She has bubbling enthusiasm and energy,” said Pam O’Brien, president and CEO of the organization that aims to break the cycle of abuse in the home and promote violence-free relationships. “She is passionate about our mission and really loves reaching out and sharing her excitement with others.”
    Veros, 64, has helped generate thousands of dollars in donations for the charity by organizing special fundraisers apart from its two primary events — the Heart of a Woman Luncheon, which took place in January, and Race for Hope, set for Oct. 8.
    In May, the Boca Raton woman put together an evening of cocktails and music themed Girls & Pearls at Florida Atlantic University’s Baldwin House, the campus residence of the school’s president. Tickets sold for $100.
    Veros is a tireless advocate for the cause and always can be counted on to find new supporters.
    “She’s just never faltered,” O’Brien said. “She’s always out there promoting AVDA from the bottom of her heart because she cares. She’s been a wonderful, magical kind of personality, and that’s really a gift to us.”
    Veros credits her husband, Frank, a retired Ford Motor Co. executive, and her daughter, Windee, a Florida State University graduate, for supporting her efforts to make a difference in the lives of the estimated 1 in 4 women who suffer from what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes as “intimate partner violence.”
    “It’s an ongoing need and we see cycles,” Veros said. “There’s never a time where it ever disappears, and that’s what we’re hoping — that somewhere, somehow, we can create the change.”
    She started volunteering for AVDA in 2004, a few years after the family moved from Michigan to Boca Raton. She learned about the agency when she saw its large moving trucks bearing the AVDA logo driving around town collecting furniture.
    “It came to me just like that,” Veros, who lives in Royal Palm Beach Yacht & Country Club, remembered. “I said, ‘That’s where my heart’s going to go.’”
    A friend introduced Veros to the board and eventually asked her to join it. This year marks AVDA’s 30th anniversary.
    “I think it’s amazing what AVDA does,” Veros said. “Their mission statement speaks right to the soul, right to the middle of the heart. We have to work every day to promote violence-free relationships, and the way that’s done is by getting the word out there.”
    When Veros was 20 and living in Michigan, she had a roommate who was abused by a boyfriend and came home one night bloodied and bruised.
“That’s when I really linked into it,” Veros said of the epidemic. “I said, ‘Some day, I’m really going to get involved.’ ”

If You Go
What: 17th annual AVDA Race for Hope
When: Oct. 8, 6:30 a.m. registration; 7:30 a.m. 5K and 10K; 8:30 a.m. Kids Dash
Where: Anchor Park, 340 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach
Cost: $10 to $30
Information: Call 265-3797 or visit www.avdaonline.org

Golf tournament this month
    Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse will benefit from a charity golf tournament Sept. 17 organized by the Boca-Delray Lodge No. 171 of Free and Accepted Masons.
    The shotgun-start event will take place at Boca Lago Country Club in Boca Raton with registration at 8:30 a.m. and play at 10 a.m. Cost is $140 per player or $40 to attend the barbecue lunch, awards presentation and silent auction.
    
For information, call Sal Musumeci at 954-871-6018 or Mark Angstrom at 954-817-7093 or visit www.bocadelray171.org.

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