Essex County News

Domestic Violence Prevention Advocates SOFIA Honors Local Leaders During Annual Gala

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WEST ORANGE, NJ - More than 200 supporters gathered at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange on Sunday to celebrate 9 years since the founding of S.O.F.I.A (Start out Fresh Intervention Advocates).

Founder Cynthia Walker and the gala committee of Chaz Moore, Kelly Moore, Lisa Boyd and Ida Walker pulled out all stops incorporating the color of purple throughout the venue for this event from the center pieces, consisting of high heeled shoes with purple flowers and a specialty cocktail of champagne and pomegranate juice creating a purple libation for one to enjoy as they viewed the tables with gifts and prizes and bid on the silent and live auction.

The afternoon included performances by vocalist Nicole Edwards and Cellist Ava Covington and a buffet style service prepared by the Wilshire hospitality staff. 

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Walker began by  thanking the many supporters that throughout the years that have assisted or gone through S.O.F.I.A.

"Since S.O.F.I.A's founding, we have been able to help so many in providing information and education involving domestic violence."

"Starting out as a small grassroots group to traveling all over New jersey working  With high school students in teaching them the signs of abusive behavior and domestic violence."

Walker continued, "This year thus far, we have serviced over 1400 students and have been instrumental in assisting and aiding woman and men that find themselves in Domestic Violent relationships."

Honorees recognized for their service in the community and throughout New Jersey included: 

Dorinda Walker, Author of 'Protected by Purpose' and Motivational speaker, whose compelling story of being born to drug addicted alcoholic parents to selling drugs and enduring abusive relationships to becoming one of the top influential black woman in business.

Wanda Edwards, for her work as a domestic violence advocate and supporter of S.O.F.I.A

Montclair Drifters, Inc., Incorporated in 1964 and whose annual brunch benefit scholarship has distributed thousands of dollars to students and organizations across the country.

Kim Nelson-Edwards, Detective Montclair Police Department, Cancer survivor advocate and advisor for Sisters on the Runway at Montclair High School educating youth on teen dating and how love should not hurt .

Bibi Taylor, Director of Finance and County Treasurer, Union County, Supporter of S.O.F.I.A

Shavar Jeffries, Attorney who shared his story of the murder of his mother, established the Donna Johnson Memorial Scholarship to aide in assisting young persons who have experienced the loss of a parent, guardian or loved one because of domestic violence.

The Allstate Foundation who has supported and continues to support S.O.F.I.A as a corporate sponsor. 

Also in attendance, were Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin, Montclair 3rd Ward Councilor Sean Spiller and 4th Ward Councilor Renee Baskerville, M.D. and Albert Pelham, Executive Director of Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation.

"Through it all you can turn tragedies into triumphs with love " said Dorinda Walker.

For more information, go to www.supportsofia.org.

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