Community, sports, faith leaders gather for ‘AMEND Together Experience’

(l-r) Rashed Fakhruddin, YWCA President/CEO Sharon K. Roberson, Jim Shulman, Beth DeBauche and Joe Levickis. (photo by YWCA)

(l-r) Rashed Fakhruddin, YWCA President/CEO Sharon K. Roberson, Jim Shulman, Beth DeBauche and Joe Levickis. (photo by YWCA)

Hundreds of men and women packed into the Bridgestone Arena concourse on Sept. 26 to learn how they can help end violence against women in the community. The YWCA’s AMEND Together program focuses on engaging men and boys to change a culture that supports violence against women. Nashville Predators President/CEO and YWCA board member Sean Henry urged the attendees to get involved.

“If you’re not with us in fighting this crisis, you are enabling this problem,” said Henry. “Our goal is simple—to end violence against women and girls and make Nashville the safest city for women and girls.”

The most recent Violence Policy Center report ranks Tennessee 4th in the nation for the rate at which men kill women. One in four women are victims of domestic violence in her lifetime, and 15.5 million children witness domestic violence each year. In Nashville, Metro Police receive 26,000 domestic violence-related calls each year. AMEND Together (formerly called MEND) is the YWCA’s initiative to stop the violence before it begins through training in schools and community education.

Several area leaders were honored for their involvement with AMEND Together and the YWCA. Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner Beth DeBauche was presented with the Collegiate Award for implementing the AMEND training across the OVC. Thousands of student athletes and coaches have been trained across the multi-state region. Metro Nashville Councilman-At-Large Jim Shulman was honored with the Leadership Award for his support of the YWCA’s Weaver Domestic Violence Center. Hunters Lane High School Coach Joe Levickis received the Coach of the Year Award. Rashed Fakhruddin was honored with the Macdonald-Negri Service Award for reaching and teaching thousands in and around the Nashville community through both his profession at Nashville Electric Service (by speaking to high school students on professionalism) and through interfaith work.

“We have to do something about this as human beings,” said Fakhruddin. “We can’t sit on the sidelines. Every area of our society must get involved—the business, athletic, and faith communities. If all of us are working together, we can change the culture and ensure safety for women and girls, both physically and emotionally.”

YWCA President/CEO Sharon K. Roberson welcomed the crowd, which included several elected officials and business leaders. They heard from speakers involved in the effort to end violence and promote healthy masculinity, including the NFL’s VP for Wellness & Clinical Services Dwight Hollier, AMEND Club participant and Independence High School Freshman Senne Guye, Christ Presbyterian Academy’s Drew Maddux, and Gil Hanke of the General Commission of United Methodist Men.

The AMEND Experience was sponsored by Bank of America, Nashville Predators, Allstate Foundation, and Verizon.