In 2013, after fighting in a violent domestic dispute to protect her children, Boca Raton, Fla., resident Gemma Burkaloff lost her life at the hands of her husband.
This tragedy struck NRCA member Venture Construction Group of Florida (VCGFL), Boca Raton, especially hard. Operations manager Sandra Lawson is Burkaloff’s sister. She now is the co-founder of the Gemma’s Angels Foundation, which launched in 2014. It is dedicated to raising awareness to end domestic violence in honor of Burkaloff’s heroic fight to save her children.
Each year, VCGFL hosts a fundraiser to benefit the Gemma’s Angels Foundation as well as Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence (AVDA).
AVDA provides a state-certified domestic violence shelter, offering a comprehensive array of services for victims of domestic violence, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and transitional housing, advocacy, counseling, and support to help them live violence free and self-sufficient lives.
The fundraiser, The Kendra Gives Back Party, took place on December 13, 2017, and was co-hosted with leading fashion accessories designer Kendra Scott. The party was open to the public and included a shopping event featuring Kendra Scott accessories. Twenty percent of all sales proceeds went to benefit Gemma’s Angels Foundation and AVDA. The event raised $5,000 with $2,500 donated to each organization.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than one in three women and more than one in four men in the U.S. have experienced physical violence and/or stalking by a spouse or significant other in their lifetime. The National Coalition of Domestic Violence states domestic violence is prevalent in every community, gender, race, religion or nationality.
“It is so important to continuously raise awareness about domestic violence. This is a tragic and pervasive issue that isn’t going to magically disappear,” Lawson says. “It doesn’t affect one person. It affects an entire family.”
Plans for a 2018 VCGFL Kendra Gives Back Party are currently being finalized and will take place later this year.
In addition, VCGFL and Gemma’s Angels will sponsor and participate in the Take a Stand Against Domestic Violence Walk in Marco Island, Fla., in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. VCGL is planning a toy drive to benefit children living at AVDA in December. For more information, visit http://www.vcgfl.com.