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9/25 Special Column: Get involved to make a difference

By Raven Canada, Adult Services Coordinator

11:38 AM EDT, September 26, 2013

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Imagine a community free of violence, a community where families are safe, where homes are peaceful, and children are happy. Unfortunately, this community does not exist for everyone. Last year Project Hope at Quin Rivers, Inc. provided intervention services to almost 500 adult and child victims of domestic and sexual violence in King William, King and Queen, New Kent, and Charles City Counties as well as prevention programming for more than 1000 children and teens. We are a non-profit organization that for 15 years has been providing free and comprehensive services to children and adults experiencing the devastating effects of domestic and sexual violence. Our services include a 24-hour hotline, emergency services, safety assessments, court/legal advocacy, training, case management, individual supportive counseling, support groups, and community education. Our goal at Project Hope is to provide a safe and supportive environment for adult and child victims to establish a violence-free life; hold perpetrators accountable for their violence; and create community norms that do not tolerate violence.

As a community, we all pay the price for domestic and sexual violence in many ways, such as low productivity at work, absenteeism, medical and counseling bills, poor school performance and the enormous cost of law enforcement, court personnel, public health workers and more. Everyone deserves to be safe but building a community free of violence takes dedication, planning, leadership and community support. Please help us create a community where violence is not tolerated. As a non-profit organization, we are supported by state and federal grants, private foundation grants, and fundraising efforts.

On September 13, Project Hope at Quin Rivers, Inc. hosted the 6th Annual Project Hope Golf Classic at Kiskiack Golf Club to raise funds to support victims of domestic and sexual violence in our communities. Thank you to all of our supporters who played golf, sponsored a hole, or donated gifts for raffle prizes. One hundred percent of the money raised will be used to support emergency client needs, such as car repairs, assistance with utility bills, relocation expenses, education or job training costs, etc. While this annual event is our largest fundraiser, we still need your help. If you are someone who is looking to help improve your local community, we encourage you to get involved.

There are ways to get involved without spending money. You could donate your time. Maybe you are good at fund raising or have ideas to help bring in money. You could donate items that are often needed such as furniture, clothes, or kitchen items for people starting over. Another important item is used cell phones that can be used to call emergency 911. If you have a yard sale you could donate all or a portion of the proceeds. This is also a great way to teach your children how to give back to society, for example, they could have a lemonade stand and donate the money to charity. Perhaps you are savvy with social media and could help promote events and encourage others to share as well. Donate your Facebook feed. Talk to your employer. Does your employer work with any charities? Maybe they could sponsor Project Hope for a day by providing short-term volunteer opportunities. Some restaurants donate a percentage of money for all meals served that day. If you work for a hotel or motel chain, persuade the company to donate a night to victims of domestic violence this is helpful when shelters are full. If you are a local religious organization, school or community group we could support each other by holding events together since some of our clients are the same. You could contact Congress at key times to influence legislation and funding for domestic violence programs. Taking a few minutes to contact your elected officials by phone or email can mean a world of difference to a survivor of domestic violence.

With the economy still trying to rebound, many people are holding onto money that they used to donate to charity. Human services organizations like ours have had cuts in the last few years from the state and federal funding as well as individual donors. Unfortunately, these organizations have seen demand for their services skyrocket in the face of increased unemployment, hunger and homelessness, while their budgets have shrunk. Your donations do make a difference. When you get involved in this community, you make a difference in the lives of hundreds of women and children affected by domestic violence every year.

If you do not think that domestic violence can affect you, you are wrong. Millions of women each year are victims of domestic and sexual violence. Violence against women affects everyone- the victims are our daughters, sisters, mothers, partners, friends, clients, and co-workers. Most people know someone who is or has been a victim of violence, even though the victim may not have disclosed the violence. It is hard for most people to know how to respond to the victim and to the perpetrator, but peer and community involvement can be effective forms of intervention. If you want more information or if you or someone know, is in a domestic violence situation please call Project Hope's Hotline at 1-877-966-4357. Together we can make a difference!

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month so please join us for our annual Take Back the Night Walk in West Point next month.