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$30,000 raised to aid women

By KEN ROSS, Staff writer, The Republican, Aug. 19, 2003

AGAWAM - Approximately $30,000 was raised yesterday for three battered women's programs at the 11th annual Linda J. Melconian Charity Golf Open.

"This (tournament) is extremely important for our shelter," said Melinda S. Thomas of WomenShelter/Companeras of Holyoke, one of the programs which benefits from the event.

Thomas added she was puzzled by a group of men protesting the event outside Crestview Country Club.

Six men who belong to the Fatherhood Coalition protested the tournament because "the event has consistently failed to recognize domestic violence against heterosexual men" and the "plight of fathers who are systematically separated from their children as a result of false claims of abuse," according to a statement from the coalition.

"We really feel we're not getting the recognition we need," said Michael Franco of Holyoke, state chairman of the coalition.

Franco and some other protesters also held signs criticizing Melconian, the Democratic state senator running for mayor of Springfield, for not supporting their cause.

The coalition has protested the event before, Melconian said. She added she believes the event supports worthy causes.

"This tournament is to support the battered women's shelters ... that give a safe, secure, healthy environment for the children," Melconian said.

A total of 121 people participated in the tournament.

Proceeds raised at the tournament benefited WomenShelter/Companeras in Holyoke and the programs of the YWCA of Western Massachusetts, including the Abuse and Rape Crisis Hotline in Springfield and New Beginnings in Westfield.

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