Rainbow services

Carey Romer, president of the board of Rainbow Services on the left, Virian Gonzalez Valdez, speaker and domestic abuse survivor, Elizabeth Eastlund, executive director on the right. (Photo by Mary Jo Hazard)

If you’re looking for for a new Fall look and wish someone could put it together for you—you should have been at Rainbow Service’s Fall Luncheon and Fashion Show at Michael’s Tuscany Room on Oct. 27.

Models descended from the balcony and every eye in the place was on them as they glided slowly down a long staircase and strode elegantly across the runway while the guests oohed and ahhed.

DeBorah Green, an independent Cabi stylist, narrated the show. According to its brochure, Cabi is one of the largest women’s fashion retailers in the world that owns no stores, yet offers in-person styling services. 

The crowd clapped and cheered when Green announced that high rise jeans are back in fashion, and suggested the Cabi “Beast Belt"—a genuine calf hair leather belt in a leopard print—as the perfect accessory. 

Another crowd-pleaser was the Josephine Coat.

“I’ve always wanted a faux fur that was of good quality and felt good and looked good on me,”  Rebecca Tortorice said happily explaining why she bought one. “This coat was soft and cuddly, and I felt good in it. Best of all, 10% of the cost goes to Rainbow."

Tortorice, who used Rainbow services 30 years ago, attended the fashion show to reconnect with them.

Rainbow Services hosted the show during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. They wanted to honor their community of survivors, staff, volunteers, community partners and donors as well as drawing attention to the steps Rainbow is taking to end the multigenerational cycle of violence.

Rainbow’s mission is to provide shelter and support services to survivors, empowering them to move beyond trauma and towards safety and stability. 

The luncheon honored former Rainbow Board Member, Dr. Beth Bonzo, tragically killed a month ago in a senseless act of violence by her husband. She left behind three boys. Rainbow is committed to honoring her memory through their advocacy and education efforts.

“We see the media characterizing stories like Beth’s as murder/suicide, and not talking about domestic violence which is a disservice to the people who may be struggling to get out," said Elizabeth Eastlund executive director of Rainbow. "It’s not a sexy thing to talk about and raise funds for, but I feel it’s imperative.”

National domestic violence statistics state one out of every four women are victims of domestic violence. Last year Rainbow served 550 domestic violence abuse survivors and 900 children. 

“Serving all of those children gives us opportunities to stop the generational cycle of abuse,” Eastlund explained. “Children who grow up in violent homes confuse love and abuse. When they come to us for services, it gives us a chance to help them.” 

Virian Valdez, the main speaker at the event, is a third generational survivor of domestic violence.

Valdez shared stories of the abuse her grandmother experienced in Mexico, stories of her mother who came to the United States to make her grandmother proud and unwittingly ended up in an abusive relationship herself, and her own story.

These stories underscored the effects domestic violence has on one generation after another unless it is interrupted by support, advocacy and education. 

Twenty-five years ago, Valdez’s mother found the strength to take her three young children and leave her abusive husband. Rainbow Services was there to support her.  

“That was the day our lives changed forever,” Valdez said, tears glistening in her eyes. 

Years later, Valdez is a successful musician and composer with a top twenty album. Her brother joined the military, received a purple heart and finished his career as a sergeant. Her sister earned a liberal arts degree from Loyola Marymount College.  

“My mom is safe and happily enjoying her life, my brother just got married and wants to start a family.” Valdez said, smiling broadly. “My sister graduated with a liberal arts degree and is now a Los Angeles court police officer. I travel all over the country as a musician.” 

“I’m full of joy and so grateful for Rainbow. If it weren’t for this program, and the assistance it gave me, who knows where I’d be,” concluded Valdez, who received a standing ovation.

rainbowservicesdv.org

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

   

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