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Vowing to end violence

Chuck Nettestad, coordinator for United Communities Advocating Non-Violence (UCAN), passed around a plate of cookies at last Friday’s White Ribbon Campaign kick-off at Alexandria City Hall. (Al Edenloff/Echo Press)1 / 3
Susan Keehn (left) with Someplace Safe and Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson encouraged people to take the White Ribbon Campaign pledge.2 / 3
Many of those attending the White Ribbon Campaign kick-off signed up to take bags of ribbons back to their offices.3 / 3

You’ll be seeing a lot of white ribbons being worn around the Alexandria area in the next few weeks.

The purpose: Making people realize that violence against women and children will not be tolerated.

The second annual “White Ribbon Campaign” kicked off in Alexandria and Douglas County last Friday.

Organized by United Communities Advocating Non-Violence, the kick-off activities included a light lunch, a short presentation about the goals of the effort and handing out the small white ribbons to community groups, businesses, churches and individuals who support the campaign.

UCAN coordinator Chuck Nettestad outlined the goals:

•Change societal attitudes and beliefs that enable and excuse violence against women and children.

•Promote safety and respect in all relationships and situations.

•Foster a positive image of masculinity, inviting men and boys to join in a celebration of personal peace and cooperation.

•Build a network of resounding voices that will support and advance UCAN initiatives to end domestic violence.

“Help us stop abuse,” Nettestad said. “Get a white ribbon and be that voice to help change our community.”

Alexandria Mayor Sara Carlson also spoke at the kick-off, which took place at City Hall. She encouraged everyone attending to spread the word about stopping domestic violence and to take the following White Ribbon vow, which was attached to the ribbons: “I pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and children.”

Susan Keehn, an advocate for Someplace Safe in Alexandria, noted that the White Ribbon Campaign takes on added urgency in the wake of a rough weekend of violence (which included an armed robbery and a murder-suicide).

“We need to do this – stop the violence,” she said. “I challenge you to tell at least one other person what this [campaign] is about. Word of mouth can make a difference.”

Keehn added that Someplace Safe offers free, confidential services to victims of domestic violence. Call (320) 762-1995 or 1-800-974-3359.

“It’s not easy for those in the pit, feeling hopeless, that there’s no way out,” Keehn said. “But there is help and there is hope.”

The kick-off concluded with representatives from businesses and organizations picking up bags of white ribbon pins that they’ll take back to their offices to distribute. Some also posed for photos, showing that they took the white ribbon pledge.

White ribbon pins are available at the City Hall front counter. Stop in during regular business hours to get pins for yourself or your group.

Residents are encouraged to wear the ribbons during the month of March. If you see someone wearing a white ribbon, thank them for their commitment to end abuse, Nettestad said.

For more information about UCAN and how to help, call (320) 763-3968.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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