The crowd gathers for the sixth annual S.O.F.I.A. walk in 2016.

Walk Against Domestic Violence
Saturday, Sept. 9, 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Canterbury Park, Canterbury Drive and Planchet Drive

Registration at
862-251-6791, or

For Montclair Local

In Montclair, in New Jersey — or anywhere you go — you will find someone or know someone who has been affected by domestic violence.

For the seventh year running, victims, survivors and supporters of domestic violence victims will come together for S.O.F.I.A.’s Annual Walk Against Domestic Violence. This year’s event will take place Saturday, Sept. 9, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Canterbury Park. The walk is a quarter mile in length, and dogs are welcome.

For nine years, Starting Out Fresh Intervention Advocates, or S.O.F.I.A., has encouraged domestic violence victims and survivors to be positive, self-sufficient and successful.

Cynthia Walker, the founder of S.O.F.I.A., said, “I was moved to start this organization when a young lady named Monica Paul of Montclair was murdered by her ex-husband.” The event shook Walker to the core and soon after, she became a certified domestic violence advocate through the Clifton/Little Falls Police Department. Walker founded S.O.F.I.A. and has been advocating for domestic violence victims ever since.

S.O.F.I.A.’s Annual Walk Against Domestic Violence elevates awareness about domestic violence, raises resources to support emergency needs of survivors and maintains operational expenses for the S.O.F.I.A. Success Center.

Cynthia Walker accepts a donation from Neil Greco, of the Allstate Foundation for Community Service, in 2016. COURTESY DOMINIC DIAZ PHOTOGRAPHY

More than 300 people are anticipated to attend this year’s event, according to Walker. Montclair officials expected to attend include Mayor Robert D. Jackson, Councilpersons Renée Baskerville and Sean Spiller, as well as Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin and Freeholder Brendan Gill.

Mayor Robert Jackson said, “This is an issue that unfortunately never goes away. Organizations like S.O.F.I.A. are doing a great job of ameliorating the problem. As much as we can bring to it, and can help support organizations that are addressing it, all the better. Cynthia and the crew do a great job of doing just that. If I have an opportunity to support them and their cause, I’m happy to do it.”

The walk’s grand marshal this year is Lena Cohen, a life coach, author and speaker. Cohen, who is herself a domestic violence survivor, has given a TED talk.

Corey Anderson, aka DJ Hardcore, who has been a S.O.F.I.A. volunteer since its inception, will play music. A complimentary light breakfast will be offered.

For four years, S.O.F.I.A. has been participating in The Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Challenge. In this challenge, charities that benefit domestic violence survivors compete to raise the most money. The top teams win grand prize cash donations that total $650,000 from The Allstate Foundation.

S.O.F.I.A.’s 2017 fundraising goal is $20,000.

“We look forward to our community gathering to bring awareness to this issue,” Walker said, “[and are] hoping your support will help eradicate domestic violence.”

Note: Gioya McRae is a personal friend of Cynthia Walker’s, and a workshop facilitator for S.O.F.I.A.