Candlelight Vigil logo

It is October. It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we celebrate, remember, and provide hope.

Thank you to everyone who came out to this year’s annual Candlelight Vigil to show support and bring awareness to issues of domestic and intimate partner violence in our community.

This year we presented the Chrysalis Award to Leanne Wierenga. Leanne was nominated by a couple of strong allies in our community stating that she is “made of tough stuff…” and that she openly shares that “toughness” as a crusader against domestic violence and sexual abuse and is not afraid to courageously express her views on both of these issues in an effort to affect change and awareness.

Leanne lives her life altruistically. When asked why she volunteers, Leanne said, “that’s what you are supposed to do. You are supposed to volunteer.” It is that selfless giving and commitment and her own story of survivorship that led Leanne to be a strong supporter of Project Woman as a volunteer a donor, and past board member. But above all Leanne is an advocate – which is the spirit of the Chrysalis Award. Thank you Leanne for all you have done and continue to do!

1 in 4 women and approximately 1 in 10 men experience domestic and intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Grave statistics; I was in a meeting just this morning and was asked, “Are you seeing any change in the need for [your] services?” I am asked that question a lot actually. I believe that when people are asking me this they are secretly crossing their fingers hoping and praying that my answer will be “yes – there is less need; we are putting an end to domestic violence…” I know that is my daily hope and prayer!

And even though our services are in greater demand – our emergency shelter capacity is stretched as far as it can be and is pretty crowded at times! – But, I don’t believe it is because we are ineffective. Quite the opposite! Our increased staff capacity, growing community partnerships, and the strong prevention/education efforts we all are committed to – is working because people are coming forward and asking for help!

Abusers isolate victims. They take away dignity, voice and hope.

The message, “You are not alone” is being heard. Women and men and children who are living with domestic violence are able to look around and see that we are here – standing together – and none need to feel alone! This may be the most important message to someone who is living with violence.

We stand together; to listen without judgment, to be patient, to share strength, to give voice; to believe, to unendingly give hope and to always remember.

In peace,

Laura Baxter, Executive Director