PENN YAN — The events planned to mark Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes’ 30th anniversary are “an honoring and a gathering,” says Edith Mann, the organization’s director.

They are not a celebration.

That’s because Mann is sad that the organization, which provides rape and abuse crisis services, is still needed — and that the need for it seems to be increasing.

“As society comes to know that these programs exist and have existed [they will be used more],” she said. “But I also think that interpersonal violence has increased ... and I remember the sheriff of Yates County saying at one point that in difficult economic times, interpersonal violence increases.”

Safe Harbors dates back to 1982, when concerned residents of Seneca, Yates and Ontario counties began organizing to help rape and abuse victims, said Mann, who has worked there since 1987. The three groups eventually merged, and they adopted the name Safe Harbors in 2009.

To honor its 30 years of service, Safe Harbors plans two events Oct. 20: A free afternoon session and a $30-per-person dinner. Arun Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who lives in the Rochester area, will speak at both.

His topic? World peace begins at home.

“Even though I work with a lack of peace in many people’s lives, it’s one of the prime reasons I do the work,” Mann said of her reasons for inviting the activist.

The afternoon event is a collaboration between Safe Harbors and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. It will run from noon to 3 p.m. at the Penn Yan Middle School auditorium, with Gandhi speaking at 1 p.m.

The rest of the time, people can browse information tables set up by local organizations, Mann said.

The dinner will be held at 6 p.m. at Lakeside Country Club. Mann will introduce Gandhi, and the evening will also feature raffles and a silent auction.

Mann said Gandhi agreed to speak in exchange for a donation to a school he supports in India.

In 1982, its first year of service, Yates County’s crisis center served five victims. Last year, Safe Harbors helped 1,000 victims with direct counseling.

The organization operates with a staff of 11 advocates and educators, plus about 25 volunteers.

For more information or to purchase tickets for the dinner, visit

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