Boulder County’s only sexual violence resource center celebrated its 50th anniversary on the evening of Thursday, October 20.
“I think the fact that we’ve hit 50 and are doing well and thriving is something I’m really proud of,” said Dr. Janine D’Anniballe, director of Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA ).
MESA has provided Boulder County with sexual violence prevention educational resources and support for victims of sexual violence since 1972. A fundraising event called “The Brave, Bold and Beautiful” celebrated 50 years of history and service.
The event featured a silent auction and wine sale that guests could participate in. Profits from these events were donated to the organization. After an hour, former and current MESA staff members spoke to the audience about the history of the nonprofit organization and the stories they have heard over the years.
Featured speaker Anne Munch, a lawyer for over 30 years and an activist against sexual violence, told the audience about some of the sexual violence cases she had worked on. She repeated the words “brave”, “bold” and “beautiful” when describing the survivors in these cases and the work she and other advocates have done.
“This is an incredible journey that we are all on, on behalf of survivors of sexual violence. We stand on the shoulders of incredible people, we all do, and we only hope one day to inspire people to stand on ours,” she said at the event.
After Munch’s speech, D’Anniballe addressed the crowd. She has been director of MESA for 23 years. During that time, she made several changes to the nonprofit, including creating a hotline for survivors of sexual violence.
“Our roots are in service to survivors of sexual violence so that no person, family, or friend of a survivor has to go through this trauma alone,” D’Anniballe said in his speech.
D’Anniballe said her goal for the anniversary fundraiser was to raise $10,000. She said she plans to use the money to fund prevention education programs in the Boulder community for issues related to rape culture and sexual violence.
However, she said this does not currently extend to the University of Colorado Boulder campus, as the university prefers to manage prevention education within its system.
“We will, of course, want to respect that…but we’d love to be involved in any type of collaboration if that opportunity ever arises,” she said.
In a statement, MESA said it provided ongoing advocacy to 296 customers between January 2021 and July 2022. It also reported an increase in phone support calls over the past fiscal year, counting 2,880 customers during this period.
“This [sexual violence] is under our control,” D’Anniballe said. “We can go out tonight and do it differently. We take action to end sexual assault.
Contact UC Freelance Senior Writer Isabella Hammond at [email protected]