Portal to Hope Honors Champions in Fight Against Domestic Violence

At its meeting on Monday, September 23, Council heard a presentation by Deborah Fallon, the founder of Portal to Hope, in which she honored community leaders and elected officials that have championed the cause of ending domestic violence.

Founded in 1996, Portal to Hope is a nonprofit organization serving survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking in Everett and surrounding cities. In 1998, it partnered with the City of Everett and the Everett Police Department to form EVAPorate Violence, a pioneering law enforcement response team that has garnered national acclaim.

EVAPorate Violence trains law enforcement officials to swiftly and efficiently deal with issues of domestic violence and stalking. It offers legal aid and extended shelter stays to those fleeing family violence, and hosts violence prevention activities. EVAPorate Violence has been praised nationally and serves as a model for other communities to follow

Fallon gave an impassioned update about the EVAPorate Violence initiative.

“[EVAPorate Violence] has served over 5,000 people since its inception in 1998. Over 2,300 of those cases involved minor children,” she said. “We couldn’t do it without the support of you all as our elected officials and community leaders. I cannot thank you enough for what you’ve done for us.”

Fallon identified four individuals in the community who had each contributed more than two decades of service to domestic violence prevention and intervention. She presented Mayor Dave Ragucci, one of the originators of the EVAPorate Violence program; Mayor Carlo DeMaria; Police Chief Steven Mazzie; and Joanne DeMato with citations for their sustained efforts in ending the scourge of intimate partner violence in Everett.

She cited the dedication of these individuals in making EVAPorate Violence “the leading law enforcement program of its kind, not just in Everett but in the country.”

Police Chief Mazzie reflected on the department’s twenty-year partnership with Portal to Hope.

“Everything they do is phenomenal. It’s not fun work. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes,” he said. “We [officers] see domestic violence all too often, but they make our job a little easier.”

Mayor Carlo DeMaria accepted his citation with a touching anecdote regarding his second cousin, Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo.

“I lost my cousin this year to domestic violence. She was killed by her husband. No one in our family knew” he said. “It’s up to us to work with our friends to ask the questions that might be uncomfortable, to get the facts.”

The month of October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Fallon urged the community to come out to support Portal to Hope.

“People are quick to reach out to us in times of tragedy, but we need the help all the time, every day,” she said, emphasizing that violence prevention is just as important as intervention. “We challenge you to come on board and get to know the work we do, to walk alongside survivors. We don’t want to just remember survivors when they’re no longer with us.”

On Saturday, Sept. 28, Everett Kiwanis hosted a 5K walk in honor of Ersilia Cataldo Matarazzo, a well-known Everett resident who was murdered by her estranged husband last December. The walk was an overwhelming success and gave momentum to the cause of Portal to Hope in eliminating domestic violence in the city.

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