Peace House readies a virtual vigil to remember lives lost to domestic violence
What: Peace House Candlelight Vigil
When: 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22
Cost: Free, but registration is required
Peace House’s annual candlelight vigil that remembers those who have been lost to domestic violence during the year will be different this time around due to COVID-19.
“We made the decision very early to continue our tradition, and we knew we would go the virtual route,” said Leisa Mukai, Peace House director of prevention and education. “(And) since then we’ve had a lot of Zoom practice during the last months.”
The Peace House Candlelight Vigil will start at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 22, through Zoom. The event is free, but registration is required. To register, visit peacehouse.org.
This year’s presenters will include state Rep. Sandra Hollins of Salt Lake City and Jenn Oxborrow, former executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.
“Rep. Hollins is a licensed clinical social worker, and she has been key in a number of child-abuse prevention bills and domestic-violence prevention bills in the Legislature,” Mukai said.
Hollins has also influenced other legislative work by sitting on the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, House Health and Human Service Committee and the Child Welfare Legislative Oversight panel, according to Mukai.
Oxborrow will complement Hollins’ work and talk about the domestic violence prevention work in Utah that has progressed over the past five years, Mukai said.
The program will also feature Peace House Executive Director Kendra Wyckoff, who will give the introductions and read remarks by Emery Blanchard, whose mother Patty was murdered by Emery’s estranged father in 1995.
The incident was a defining case in Park City, and it came right on the tails of the public murder of Nadalee Noble, said Sally Tauber, Peace House development and marketing director.
Many of the same group of people who had helped with Noble’s case were trying to help with Blanchard’s safety, she said.
“She was killed after he had crawled through a window and strangled her before leaving the children alone in the next room,” she said.
If Noble’s murder started the Peace House effort, Blanchard’s death spurred the building of the first Peace House shelter.
“That’s when Deer Valley and Bob Wells came up with the idea of using the land next to the Marsac police department for the building,” Tauber said. “They got contractors to donate time and effort to build the first facility.”
The virtual platform has changed how the speakers will give their presentations, Mukai said.
“Most of our speakers will come to Peace House and deliver their remarks from a socially distanced space in front of our donor wall,” she said. “The donor wall is a beautiful, illuminated shell-like backdrop, and we will also (set up) our candles in this location.”
In addition to the speakers, the vigil will feature live music performed by Otter Creek’s Mandy Danzig.
“She has done this for us for a few years and she has this poignant, musical response to this event,” Mukai said.
Another change in the program will include a statement about those who were killed in domestic violence incidents this year, instead of reading just the names, according to Mukai.
“This year there were 28 lives lost in Utah, and a bulk of them happened between March 1 and Sept. 28,” she said. “We lost 16 during that time.”
The event will close with a blessing by Juanita Ramos-Corum.
Ramos-Corum holds the medicine bag for 21 tribes, and with the permission of Tribal Medicine Elders, offers sacred medicine ceremonies around the world, Mukai said.
“She blessed the ground where we built the Peace House campus,” she said. “She is a soulful person, which is much needed today. This event is always poignant, but I think everyone feels this more deeply this year with the illnesses, rise of interpersonal and domestic violence.”
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