Vera House has been leading the discussion and educating the public about domestic and sexual violence in Central New York for several decades. Every year they pause to remember one of their founders, Sister Mary Vera by presenting another community member with an award who carries on her humanitarian spirit. Physical Education Teacher Joe Moran from the Hughes School and the Director of the Building Men program is this year’s recipient. For 9 years since he started the program, Moran and his team have been working with Syracuse City School District students on character building and relationships.
“We work with an acronym we developed called SIR. Because when we meet a man, we say, hello Sir. The “S” stands for significance; the “I” for integrity; and the “R” is for value and building relationships. And we believe that we can teach them to lead with some integrity and to find their purpose, find their significance for being here in this community and to have healthy relationships and these guys will be successful.”
Moran says the program helps young men deal with authority because their teachers also double as their basketball coaches. Vera House Prevention and Education Director Lauren Cunningham says Horan has done incredible work to prevent violence in our community.
“Someone like him who’s in the community, who’s connected to kids, really has a profound impact on their lives and the choices that they make. And so, Vera House partners with people like Joe because he’s able to reach youth and where they are and in a way that we would probably not be able to reach them.”
The model that Horan and his team in the Building Men program is providing a dialogue with good examples for youth in middle school.
“So, we center it around some character talks where we talk about different characteristics of being a man. We bring in guest speakers. We kind of help them monitor their academics and we play a little basketball, we go on some field trips and we try to build a well-rounded program where we touch each area of a boy’s life.”
Vera House’s George Kilpatrick is the Coordinator of the Men Lead by Example Program at Vera House. He explains that men in the community should also reassess their actions in intimate relationships.
“... and some of the words you choose and some of the actions that you have, you begin to check yourself and say, wait a minute. Maybe some of the things that I thought was ok, maybe not ok. And I need to rethink and recommit myself. So, how does this work in the community? The more people that we can get to begin to challenge themselves and to challenge their thinking, the better we will be able to prevent violence against women and girls, in particular, and intimate partner violence, in general.”
Kilpatrick says men also can become victims themselves. Vera House also presented Special Appreciation Awards on Thursday to the General Manager of Heid’s of Liverpool, Patrick Winslow, Balloons Over Syracuse Owner, Bill Walker and the former Artistic Director of the Paul Robeson Performing Arts Company, Ryan Hope Travis.