AUBURN — Five community leaders will be recognized at Safe Voices’ annual Fall Mixer and Community Partner Awards, part of the agency’s 40th anniversary celebration. The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, at Martindale Country Club.

Safe Voices is a domestic violence resource center serving Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties. Each year, the agency honors local citizens and organizations who have made remarkable contributions in support of victims and survivors, as well as those engaged in abuse prevention and awareness.

This year’s awardees include Nicole Bissonnette of Pine Tree Legal Assistance, Peter Lasagna of Bates College Athletic Department, Cynthia Patterson of Safe Voices, Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services and Lt. David St. Laurent of Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.

Bissonnette will receive the inaugural Kimberly Wilson Community Transformation Award for her work to improve processes around firearms retrieval in high risk domestic violence cases.

The award was created in memory of Kim Wilson, who died in 2016 and served as Safe Voices’ child protective services liaison and later the rural grant coordinator. Wilson expressed a passion for collaborating with service providers in order to create meaningful change on behalf of victims and survivors. The award is presented to an advocate who demonstrates a commitment to improving how communities work together to address domestic violence.

Recognizing gaps in how the criminal justice system handles concerns about firearms in domestic violence cases, Bissonnette spearheaded the Comprehensive Assessment of Retrieval Systems in 2016. Today, her assessment guides Safe Voices advocates, law enforcement and community partners as they navigate domestic violence cases with the highest levels of risk and lethality.

Lasagna is head men’s lacrosse coach at Bates College and a current Safe Voices board member. He has helped promote conversations about gender-based violence among athletes at Bates and initiated a number of awareness events on campus.

Patterson will receive the Shining Star Award, which honors one Safe Voices staff member who has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to their team, the agency and those Safe Voices serves.

Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services, serving Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, is an integral partner across all Safe Voices’ program areas, from education and prevention to collaborating in the service of victims and survivors. It is a lead agency in the implementation of Safe Voices’ Office of Violence Against Women grant, which aims to enhance response services in rural communities.

St. Laurent, of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, has been a long-time ally of Safe Voices and a committed advocate for enhancing law enforcement’s response to domestic violence cases.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the event will include networking and a living history presentation celebrating Safe Voices’ 40th anniversary, as well as a silent auction and hors d’oeuvres.

The event is open to the public; tickets are $20. 

The Safe Voices’ 24-hour helpline at 1-800-559-2927.

FMI, register: [email protected], 207-795-6744.

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