By Amy Woods
Olympia Dukakis’ signature silver locks have graced the movie screen, the television screen and the cover of a memoir, and they soon will pop up behind the lectern at the Heart of a Woman Luncheon to benefit Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse.
The 82-year-old Academy Award winner known for unforgettable roles in Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias and Mr. Holland’s Opus, has been a longtime advocate of women’s rights, speaking openly about domestic abuse to raise funds for its victims.
“This is probably the biggest speaker we’ve had,” said Monique Force, AVDA’s development director. “We’re pretty excited.”
Force conducted a little research following last year’s successful luncheon featuring kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart and came across Dukakis. Force tapped the A-lister’s agents about addressing the 500-plus attendees who will gather at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on Feb. 24 for the annual benefit, and a contract was drawn up.
“She uses her fame as a platform to get the information out about domestic violence,” Force said. “What we’re hoping for her to accomplish is to spread the word that there’s help available.”
AVDA, a 30-year-old nonprofit organization based in Delray Beach, operates a 41-bed emergency shelter, a 31-bed transitional housing facility and a 24-hour crisis hotline and also provides prevention, outreach and advocacy programs on a $2 million-per-year budget.
“Last year, we served more women and children than ever before,” Force said. “Domestic violence just continues to grow, and it’s a major problem. We want to be able to provide the programs and services. A lot of times, there are victims out there, and they don’t know these programs and services exist.”
Gulf Stream resident Ann Bennett is serving as luncheon chairwoman.
“We’re at a point that we’re hoping that this year will be a greater audience,” Bennett said. “We’ve been really blessed with some nationally recognized names, but Olympia is an Academy Award winner and also an advocate for women’s issues. She brings a new perspective.”
Sponsors include Jeannette DeOrchis of Morgan Stanley, the Bennett family, NCCI Holdings and Omega at Town Center at Boca Raton.
If You Go
What: Heart of a Woman Luncheon to benefit Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse
When: 10:30 a.m. silent auction; noon luncheon Feb. 24
Where: Boca Raton Resort & Club
Cost: $125; $1,200 for a table of 10
Info: Call 265-3797 or visit www.avdaonline.org/heart-of-a-woman