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Miesje & Bill Havens and Denise & Owen McGraw Named 2017 "New Beginnings" Gala Honorary Chairs

The Vera House Foundation will present its 26th Annual “New Beginnings” Gala on Saturday, December 2nd at the Oncenter from 6 to 11 p.m. Special tribute will be paid to Gala Honorary Chairs Miesje & Bill Havens of Jamesville and Denise & Owen McGraw of Brewerton for their unwavering commitment and support of Vera House.

Miesje and Bill Havens are both natives of Syracuse, residing now in Jamesville with their sons Maxwell and William. Miesje was an active member of the Vera House Board of Trustees from 2005 – 2015. She served on the Gala Committee, Major Gifts Committee and served as our Board Chair from 2011 - 2012. Miesje is also on the Board of Trustees for the Dewitt Community Library where she recently acted as Capital Campaign Chair for a new library. She is a former board member of Leadership Greater Syracuse, Junior Achievement, the Boys and Girls Club of Syracuse and the Executive Women’s Golf Association. Bill is self-employed and has been a local guitar instructor for several years. He is a volunteer for the L’Arche Community in Syracuse. In addition, he has volunteered for Jamesville DeWitt Little League as a coach and the school district as a parent volunteer. Miesje and Bill are members of Holy Cross Church in Dewitt. They are also new partner owners of Branch’s Driving School, Inc. in Syracuse.

Denise McGraw has been an active member of the community for more than 25
years and Owen has been supporting her right along the way. Her first role as a volunteer in our shelter began when she was expecting her first child, Shaun. She continued her work volunteering on the White Ribbon Campaign Committee in 2005 and “New Beginnings” Gala Committee in 2008. Beginning in 2007, she served on the Vera House Agency Board until 2012 and became a Vera House Foundation Trustee in 2007. Professionally, Denise has been an entrepreneur for over a decade with Arbonne International. She is also the Heart Walk Director with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Owen demonstrates the mission of Vera House in his daily life, supports its work in the community and has instilled that passion in raising his boys. Owen works as a Supervisor at National Grid in the Business Services group. Prior to that, he worked and retired from New Process Gear (Magna Powertrain) in East Syracuse after 28 years. Denise and Owen reside in Brewerton with their son Colin, a Senior at St. John Fisher. Their son Shaun, a 2014 graduate of Binghamton University, resides outside of Washington, D.C.

“New Beginnings” is the annual gala sponsored by the Vera House Foundation Board of Trustees to benefit the programs and services of Vera House, Inc. Now in its 26th year, the “New Beginnings” Gala will bring together over 500 guests to celebrate the season and support the agency’s mission to end domestic and sexual violence.

The evening will begin at 6 p.m. at the Oncenter with a cocktail hour and exciting silent auction. An elegant sit- down dinner will follow and Grand Central Station will round out the evening with entertainment.

Tables of 10, as well as individual tickets, are available at patron and donor levels. Patron tables of 10 are $2,500 and donor tables cost $2,100. Donor tickets are $210 per person. For more information or reservations, please call Vera House’s Special Events Office at (315) 425-0818 x2248, or make your reservations securely online by visiting

The Vera House Foundation “New Beginnings” Gala is made possible through the generous underwriting support of the following individuals and organizations:

  • Community Bank, N.A.
  • Cygnus Management Foundation
  • Fastrac
  • The Horowitch Family Foundation
  • Loftus, Ryu, Bartol, MDs, PC
  • Northwestern Mutual
  • Nascentia Health
  • Raymour & Flanigan Furniture, Inc.
  • Welch Allyn
  • Carrols Corporation
  • JGB Enterprises, Inc.
  • National Grid
  • Upstate Medical University
  • Murphy and Nolan, Inc.
  • Anaren
  • Caroline & Nick Brust
  • Dr. Patricia Numann