A Springfield nonprofit organization is reaching out with a variety of events in October to educate and inform on a matter of particular concern to Clark Countians.
Project Woman will mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month with activities to show how the local community can support efforts to reduce and work toward ending the problem, helping those affected and celebrating those who have survived it.
Clark County has one of the highest per capita rates by county in Ohio of domestic violence, according to Katherine Eckstrand, communications and community engagement director at Project Woman.
“We hear about domestic violence every day, and it’s usually in passing. But the reality of it is hard to grasp,” she said. “This month is a chance for us to develop a greater understanding of the issues involved and how to address them as a community.”
Activities will begin with the annual Candlelight Vigil at 7 p.m. Thursday on the esplanade in downtown Springfield. The free event will gather people to support and remember those affected by domestic violence, and to honor community members who are working to stop it.
“It’s a chance for us to remember those lives lost or altered by domestic violence, but also to celebrate the survivors,” Eckstrand said.
The organization’s annual Chrysalis Award, given for outstanding advocacy, will be awarded posthumously. The late Winkie Mitchell is the 2022 recipient, and it will be accepted by her son, Jason Mitchell, during the service.
Winkie Mitchell was among the first to meet with Project Woman Executive Director Laura Baxter when she began the position a decade ago, explaining her program Partners Against Violence Every Day (PAVE).
The Candlelight Vigil will also have a performance by the choral group Just Eve and the involvement of Wittenberg University students as part of their Take Back the Night campaign aimed at reducing sexual violence.
Oct. 14 and 15 will see a unique depiction of domestic violence awareness with the Clothesline Project at City Hall. The display is presented by Victim Witness, an advocacy group from the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office, and is made of shirts designed by local people affected by violence, telling a story through the shirts.
Survivors involved in Project Woman’s programs are making shirts for this year’s display. It will be outside City Hall, weather permitting or indoors if not.
“It makes it personal by having the survivors involved,” said Eckstrand. “It’s about real people who have dreams and hopes and these express that.”
The public can support Project Woman and have fun with the organization’s annual signature fundraiser, DIVA! Night Out, 5:30-8 p.m. Oct. 27 at Courtyard by Marriott.
This year’s theme is the 1970s, which was when Project Woman was founded, and attendees are encouraged to dress in ‘70s costumes and be ready to dance. There will also be food, a cash bar, photo booth, pampering services, interactive entertainment with Dueling Pianos and the chance to bid on a variety of raffle baskets.
Eckstrand said DIVA! Night Out celebrates survivors of domestic violence, volunteers and everyone who works to help those affected by the problem and educating how to stop it. Funds raised help support the organization’s emergency shelter and others programs. Eckstrand said some funding has been cut in recent years and this helps make up for it.
Tickets for DIVA! Night Out are available at www.projectwoman.org along with other information about Awareness Month events and Project Woman’s services.