Pay it Forward: Surviving, thriving are themes of Heart of a Woman Luncheon

Event Chairwomen Rosemary Krieger and Anne Vegso. Photo provided

By Amy Woods

The shelter’s statistics say it all. Four hundred women and children received emergency housing last year while another 750 received referrals to other resources because the facility was at capacity. Outreach services increased 32%. Programs for community education, professional training and violence prevention grew 136%.

In all, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse helped more than 15,000 residents in 2019.

“The number of people demanding our services is at an all-time high,” said Pam O’Brien, AVDA’s president and CEO. “For the last three years, it has been that way.”

O’Brien, who is gearing up for her organization’s annual fundraiser, the Heart of a Woman Luncheon, on Feb. 26, said the Me Too movement has empowered more women to come forward and report abuse.

“I think that the conversation nationally about intimate-partner violence is so prevalent today that it’s made people more comfortable reaching out for help,” she said. “They know they’re not alone, and our numbers show that.”

Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit AVDA’s 24-hour crisis hotline and 32-bed apartment complex in addition to the services and programs mentioned above.

“We have had a tremendous outpouring of sponsorships for this event, which has already exceeded our expectations,” O’Brien said. “I’m grateful for the support from the community.”

Audrey-May Prosper is the keynote speaker. Prosper will share her shocking story of survival, what she learned from it and how it led to a lifelong mission of helping others like her thrive in the aftermath.

“She speaks as a woman who has lived through something horrific,” O’Brien said. “Her focus will be on the positive and making the best of a scary situation and moving past it.”

The luncheon begins at 10:30 a.m. with a mix-and-mingle, a silent auction and a luxury raffle. A community service award will be presented to Kol, an 8-year-old golden retriever certified by Golden Paws Assistance Dogs and owned by Jane Eisenberg.

Therapy dog Kol will be honored for work at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo provided

The two spent nearly four months at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland following the 2018 mass shooting there.
“I have been very involved in AVDA for many years, and it is an organization that is close to my heart,” event Chairwoman Anne Vegso said. “We’re just wanting this event to be the best ever.”

Chairwoman Rosemary Krieger agreed.

“We want to make this the best yet,” Krieger said. “We want to acquire sponsors, and we want to be out there telling people why we’re here.”

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If You Go

What: Heart of a Woman Luncheon

When: 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 26

Where: Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, 2425 W. Maya Palm Drive, Boca Raton

Cost: $175

Information: Call 561-265-3797 or visit

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