Staff Member Receives Statewide Thrive Award

Barry Maketansky is soon to receive the statewide Desert Sunflower Award from the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV). The Desert Sunflower Award recognizes an individual’s nontraditional involvement in the movement to end sexual and/or domestic violence. Barry has helped to champion positive local change by demonstrating exemplary efforts in collaboration, community involvement, and philanthropy.

On Tuesday, May 16th, 2023 at 12:00 noon at the Lighthouse ArtSpace in Scottsdale, ACESDV will celebrate 43 years of advocacy with the Thrive Luncheon – The Art of Healing. The only one of its kind in Arizona, the Thrive Luncheon is designed to uplift survivors and honor advocates and allies.

Barry has been with Verde Valley Sanctuary (VVS), as an employee, since 2013; however, he has worked with the organization much longer than that. Barry originally became involved with VVS, and thus the domestic and sexual violence movement in Arizona, when he joined the Board of Directors in 2004.

When Barry was asked what connects him to the mission of VVS, he stated it was because, growing up, he had an idyllic childhood never knowing or seeing violence. He said that it was only when he was asked to join the Board of VVS that he became aware of the issue of domestic violence and committed himself to eradicate it. Since then, Barry (and his activist spirit) has been a tireless advocate for the mission of VVS. He uses his role as our Community Enterprise Director to the fullest. Barry oversees VVS’s three thrift stores and there is almost nowhere that you can go in the Verde Valley where Barry’s name is unknown.

Barry uses any opportunity to advocate for change and bring awareness to the issues of domestic and sexual violence. He firmly believes that without proper prevention and intervention with offenders, survivor-only responses will never fully solve the issue.

To address this, Barry “goes to jail” every Wednesday in Yavapai County to conduct offender groups. Through Barry’s involvement with Northern Arizona Restorative Justice (NARJ), he was asked to teach inmates. He saw the need and felt compelled to answer it.

To know Barry is to truly understand the depth of his compassion and commitment to ending domestic and sexual violence. In jail, Barry learned of the large number of infants and children who through no fault of their own are orphaned. Their families either are unable to take care of them or they don’t want to. Once again, Barry was compelled to act. In February of 2021 (at 70 years old), Barry and his husband Jimmy adopted a baby boy born in the jail. Before and concurrent with advocating and helping people, Barry has helped various animals at his animal sanctuary in Cornville, AZ. Barry played a key role in VVS’s move to be able to accept companion animals for those entering shelter.

According to Twice Nice Thriftique Store Manager (Sedona) Marge Riley, “Victims escaping domestic violence often have no choice but to leave their precious pets behind with their abusers. Most shelters are simply not equipped to handle pets. Barry is an animal rights advocate and understands the pain and heartache this creates. Due largely to Barry’s efforts, the VVS now offers accommodations for the pets of shelter residents.

“Barry Maketansky represents the very description of what the Desert Sunflower Award means. He is a seed that germinates positive change in the efforts to end domestic and sexual violence through his passionate work with VVS. He works tirelessly every day through the organization to assist, educate, and advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence through one-on-one and group work. Barry is committed to ending the cycles of abuse and violence and creating change in the lives of those affected by this issue. In addition, his commitment to philanthropic efforts in raising funds to continue the important work of both organizations (NARJ and VVS) is unmatched anywhere. As a friend, I have witnessed his undying dedication and tireless hours he has spent to truly make a difference; and as a professional colleague and partner in many of his projects over the years, I have been able to appreciate the depths of the difference he has made in the lives he has touched,” Executive Director of Sedona International Film Festival Patrick Schweiss.

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