Saint Mary’s hosts screening and panel featuring HBO documentary ‘At the Heart of Gold’

first_imgThe Belles Against Violence Office (BAVO) and Belles Athletics teamed up with non-profit The Army of Survivors to host a free screening of HBO’s “At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal” Sunday evening, followed by a panel and Q&A session. The film details the scandal and trial of Larry Nassar, the osteopathic physician of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team and at Michigan State University for over 30 years who sexually abused hundreds.The panel that followed included Judge Rosemarie Aquilina as well as advocates and “Sister Survivors” of Nassar’s abuse, Grace French, Louise Harder and Melissa Hudecz. The event discussed sexual violence prevention, intervention and response. Aquilina sentenced Nassar to seven life sentences — 175 years of prison time.“I think that we all have an obligation or responsibility to give voice to our victims in many ways,” Aquilina said.She discussed the ways being a woman impacted how others perceived her work as a judge. “If I could have been a man, I firmly believe that I wouldn’t have been criticized, I would have been applauded when I took out Nassar with a couple of my comments, but because I’m a woman, I was ‘too harsh,‘” Aquilina said. “… [But] a man would not have listened to 169 victims … they wouldn’t have taken the time.”Eighty-eight women were scheduled to come forward with their stories, but Aquilina allowed every person affected to testify, and by the end of the week over 156 women had spoken, the documentary said. According to the BAVO Facebook page, Aquilina has emerged as a symbol of hope for survivors of sexual abuse.“We need to change the language. So ‘man up’ means that men are strong when they speak out against abuse, when they speak up for themselves, when they speak up for anybody that isn’t speaking up,” Aquilina said. “And when you use terms of ‘Oh, that woman has PMS,’ because she’s upset … you shouldn’t be doing that — we need to respect people. PMS, I think it stands for promote, mentor and support.”One member of the audience asked the panelists for advice on how to keep working toward justice for sexual abuse victims.“The longer the time passes where they don’t produce documents, where they don’t get answers, when they don’t continue the investigation, the American public forgets, and evidence can get destroyed,” Aquilina said in response. “… We want you to continue the conversation so that we don’t forget it, so that we do a meaningful change — because by stonewalling, by not answering this, America is quick to go on to the next issue.”French said the best way to make a difference is for those who are not survivors to be advocates. “One of the biggest things I would say, for everybody is just to be loud about this issue if you have the energy,” French said. “One of the biggest things I’ve noticed as an advocate is that a lot of the times, it’s only survivors on this panel. And it’s exhausting to be a survivor and to be talking about this every day, or talking about this and trying to do something every day.” Harder said she agrees with French, and that survivors need the support of others listening, learning and standing up for them.“[Those who] experience any sort of sexual violence or any sort of trauma, we’re stripped away of our power, and we’ve lost all control for at least a period of time,” Harder said. “… It goes back to believing the survivor, it goes back to listening, learning some of the grooming tactics that perpetrators use. It goes to standing up, [and] being an ally, because it is exhausting going to events and speaking up as a survivor, and standing up and being that voice — because we all have a voice and everyone’s story matters.” Hudecz said viewers can also make a difference by speaking out against the promotion of sexist and violent ideas in everyday culture.“One … easy thing to do is to not tolerate behavior that promotes sexual assault, to stand up against it,” Hudecz said. “That is huge for survivors. That’s huge for changing the culture. When we’re just silent and let it happen around us, we’re still part of the problem.” Tags: #MeToo, BAVO, Belles Athletics, Larry Nassar, sexual assaultlast_img read more

Pew Trust launches tech tool for Vermont arts organizations

first_imgThe Pew Charitable Trusts announced the launch of the Cultural Data Project (CDP) in Vermont, giving nonprofit arts and cultural organizations state of the art technology to help them strengthen their management capacity and demonstrate their impact across Vermont.  The project’a web-based data collection tool for arts and cultural organizations and their advocates’launched with funding from the Vermont Arts Council, The Vermont Community Foundation and The Kresge Foundation. ‘As cultural organizations navigate a challenging economic climate with limited resources, the CDP provides the information they need to track programmatic, operational and financial trends,’ says Neville Vakharia, CDP director. ‘Arts and cultural organizations in Vermont will be better able to understand their financial condition, improve management practices and plan for the future.’ Operated by The Pew Charitable Trusts in Philadelphia, the Cultural Data Project has emerged as a national resource for collecting and disseminating reliable, standardized data for the cultural  sector. The CDP is in use by more than 11,500 nonprofits in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and now, Vermont. With support from national arts grantmakers including the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Kresge Foundation, the CDP is on track to be operational in 22 states by 2014. Those participating in the Vermont CDP will receive free assistance from a team of on-call database specialists and financial consultants. Once participants supply the wide range of financial, programmatic and operational data, the CDP serves as a repository and financial management tool. Organizations can instantly generate information for grant applications, or create on demand 77 different analytic reports on topics such as program activity, free and paid attendance, balance sheet trends, or marketing expenses to present to their donors or boards. Organizations can also use the CDP to understand how they operate in comparison to groups of similar organizations in their community, or communities in other CDP states.  ‘Understanding not just how financially healthy an organization is, but how the entire sector is doing, is just one aspect of this effort,’ says Vermont Arts Council Executive Director Alexander L. Aldrich. ‘Giving managers contextual information is critical to their planning, as is giving hard, defensible data to funders and policy-makers. Added to all this is the convenience of Vermont organizations being able to apply for funding from some of our major national foundations or creating an annual report with just a few clicks of a mouse.’ With the CDP, research and advocacy organizations can provide a clearer snapshot of arts and culture in a region, demonstrating how vital a role the sector plays. In regions where the project has been in existence for many years, the CDP has been used successfully to provide policymakers evidence of the sector’s assets and needs. For example, arts advocates in Pennsylvania used data collected from the project to defeat a proposed ‘arts tax’ that would have removed the tax exemption on ticket sales and membership revenue for nonprofit arts and cultural organizations. ‘Supporting this project is a natural fit for the Vermont Community Foundation’s goal of strengthening the state’s nonprofit sector,’ says Foundation President & CEO Stuart Comstock-Gay. ‘Having access to this data and other CDP resources will allow arts and cultural organizations to fine tune their financial management, create stronger messages about their community impact, and better understand the value of their sector.’    For more information on the Vermont Cultural Data Project, visit www.vtculturaldata.org(link is external). The Cultural Data Project, which originated in Pennsylvania, is governed by a consortium of organizations including the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, The Heinz Endowments, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, The Pew Charitable Trusts and the William Penn Foundation. The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. www.pewtrusts.org(link is external)last_img read more

Preventing next year’s tax bill

first_img 164SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Myriam DiGiovanni After writing for Credit Union Times and The Financial Brand, Myriam DiGiovanni covers financial literacy for FinancialFeed. She is also a storytelling expert and works with credit unions to help … Web: www.financialfeed.com Details If you’ll be receiving a bill from the IRS instead of a big refund, you’re not alone.The Government Accountability Office estimates that about 2 in 10 taxpayers will owe money to the IRS.While it might be too late to do anything about this year’s bill, there are steps you can take now to ensure next year’s tax season treats you better.Adjust W-4 withholding: Review your W-4. Check the withholding calculator on IRS.gov to figure out if you have the right number of personal allowances on your W-4. After the passing of the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the IRS and U.S. Department of the Treasury changed the withholding guidelines employers use to determine how much income tax to deduct from paychecks. The result was an increase in your paycheck. Those who didn’t adjust the personal allowances on their W-4 accordingly, may have had too little income tax taken out of each paycheck. It’s always a good idea to make adjustments when there is a major life event like marriage or having a child.Review your tax filing status: Did you select the best tax filing status? The one that will keep the most money in your account? There are five to choose from: single, head of household, married filing separately, married filing jointly and qualified widow. Your filing status determines your tax rate and deduction eligibility.Do your research: Have you opened accounts that provide tax breaks such as 401(K)s, Individual Retirement Accounts, Health Savings Accounts and 529 accounts, to name a few? Do you know your tax bracket? Don’t be afraid to explore various educational resources to help you make sense of your taxes.last_img read more