OXFORD — Norwich-based entertainment company Live Event NY sponsored a lighting display in downtown Oxford on Tuesday, May 3 for Amelia's Voice, in honor and remembrance of Amelia Wakefield.
Amelia's Voice is a domestic violence awareness and resource group that was formed after the death of Oxford teen Amelia Wakefield, who was the victim of a domestic attack by an ex-boyfriend in 2019.
"Tragically, her life was taken in a domestic abuse incident. And in response to that, the families in the community have joined together to create a group called Amelia’s Voice, and they also have, in tandem, another part of their group called Amelia’s House," explained Live Event NY Owner Will MacGuire. "Their goal, and our goal, is to raise awareness on the issues of domestic abuse and to provide fundraising efforts ultimately for a safe house, and that’s where the Amelia’s House part comes in."
Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the tragedy. To honor Amelia's memory and raise awareness about domestic abuse, Live Event NY donated the set up and take down of over 100 wireless lighting units in downtown Oxford.
"On that anniversary night we go to Oxford at the request of the family and everyone sort of involved in the project. We light up Oxford in purple really to do something positive and bright, and to raise awareness out of the terrible situation that happened," said MacGuire.
"We put a little over 100 wireless lighting units all around Oxford, and we draped the park and surrounding businesses in 360 degrees in purple. And many, many members of the community came out that were not only involved with the project of Amelia’s Voice, but also just local community members that know the family or that know the story."
MacGuire said the lighting units are non-invasive and battery powered, and compared it to "going into the park with many high powered flashlights for a little while, and bringing them all down."
While the Live Event NY lighting displays often coincide with fundraising efforts, MacGuire said this event was meant to serve as a space to remember Amelia and celebrate her life.
"There’s a mix of emotions, all of which are healthy and good. But some people are just happy to see a nice, beautiful lighting display, and they can associate it with fond memories of a community member. And some people are in tears. Some people still have emotions to shed, and they can use that space to do that," he said. "It’s a completely open environment for people to express themselves however they need to for that type of thing, and that’s why this is not a fundraising effort."
In addition to last week's lighting display, Amelia's Voice and Live Event NY also hold a 5K run and walk in Oxford every October to raise funds for the group and raise awareness about domestic violence. MacGuire said the lighting event marks the halfway point to the 5K, and helps to keep that awareness in people's minds.
"This was mostly to celebrate a life and to just raise a little bit of awareness. It’s kind of the halfway mark between now and when the 5k is potentially scheduled for. So it just puts a little bit of a reminder in people’s minds about what happened, what is happening, and what could potentially be happening," he explained. "It’s really mostly, at the core of it, it’s for a select few family members, individuals, and community members that really benefit from being able to celebrate the life, or to see something physical as a representation of how they feel."
MacGuire often partners with organizations in the area to assist with awareness efforts of their causes. He said the lighting displays have become his way to "shed a light on some of these issues," and that he always looks for ways to get involved in the community and donate services.
"Charitable contributions, working within the community, and giving back in some way is something that’s been a part of our family for some time. So I think that when I started my business when I was younger, it was a natural process and a natural part of it," said MacGuire. "Building the small business several years ago, I took advantage of every opportunity that I could to host a family fundraiser, or a barbecue fundraising event, or something. Anything that I could get my hands on to donate our time. It was extremely rewarding."
"We’re only a few years deep into these projects, but they’re really great partnerships and I think that they’re going to evolve into really great programs within the community," he added. "That really is the main heart and drive of all of these things. Yes, they're fundraising efforts. Yes, they’re awareness projects. But the main function of them is the community involvement."
More information on Amelia's Voice and Amelia's House can be found at ameilasvoice.com, or on the Amelia's Voice/Amelia's House Facebook page.