Local event strives for global reach

JOHNSTOWN – Local residents gathered at Fox Run Golf Club Thursday evening for the first Winter Warmth: An Evening of Expression with one united message:?Domestic violence is not OK.

Almost 100 people came to the event, which featured art, dance and music. But more importantly, the participants drew attention to local efforts in the global One Billion Rising movement – which is aimed to get a billion people worldwide to gather for domestic violence awareness.

Rebecca Cerrone-Freeman of the Cerrone Memorial Foundation organized the local event, some of the proceeds of which went to the Gloversville-based Family Counseling Center.

“Horrible things are happening in the world, but when one billion people come together in a positive form of expression, that can make a change. And that can make all the difference in the world,” Cerrone-Freeman said. “If one billion people are positively coming together, that can change the world.”

One Billion Rising was created by Eve Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” as part of the V-day organization she created in 1998 to encourage people to host events promoting equal rights for women.

This year, the event aimed to have the one billion people take part, practicing a form of dance or other artistic expression against domestic violence.

The night’s entertainment featured a dance performance from the Highlights Dance Troupe, an acoustic set from Sam Ralbovsky and Frankie Catracala, a vocal performance by the Bobcats and music by SkyFall.

The work of local visual artists also was displayed at the golf club.

“It’s about people coming together and saying, ‘Wow, I did not know that was happening. I did not realize it was as bad as that, but I also didn’t know that my voice – my one voice – could make such a difference,'” Cerrone-Freeman said. “If that comes out of this tonight, if one person says, ‘Wow, I made a difference,’ that’s great.”

Mayfield Town Justice John Papa sees his share of domestic violence cases in court, and he said he was happy to see an event addressing the issue.

He, along with several of the other attendees, spoke about the importance of bringing awareness to the issue, so those affected by it know there is always someone to turn to.

“I think the fact that we have such awareness with organizations like this really helps out, because they constantly come to our magistrates, meetings and dinners. They update us on laws. They update us on trends in domestic violence and what we need to watch out for,” Papa said. “What tools we have available to us to work on domestic violence … They certainly help us with awareness.”

Johnstown artist Alexandra Higgins agreed with Papa and said she remembers in the 1970s, when domestic violence issues weren’t openly discussed and victims kept it to themselves.

“I think … in the last 35, 40 years there has really been more of an awareness,” she said. “It’s much more in regular sight than it was 30 years ago.”

John Borgolini can be reached at