By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
In May this year, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, along with the City of Gary in conjunction with the National Initiative, the Gary for Life and the Gary Police Department launched a Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign in an effort to help those in need and in time of trouble.
One of the first events of the campaign was a “Fill A Purse” activity where the community was asked to support Domestic Violence Awareness through donations of new or gently used women’s handbags or knapsacks filled with toiletries.
Sharon Mark-Taylor, executive director of the Gary Commission of Women said it was a team effort of all involved who collected quite a few purses filled with personal care items for ladies in the two shelters associated with the Gary Commission for Women. The two shelters are the Rainbow Shelter, a domestic violence shelter for women and children and the Ark Shelter, a transitional housing for women and children. Many of these shelters now have waiting lists
Mark-Taylor said it has been a very good idea to have a “Fill A Purse” campaign. She said, “It’s good for them to at least have a purse because sometimes they have to flee with absolutely nothing from domestic violence. It’s going to be an ongoing effort because our clients change constantly.”
Taylor said many domestic violence problems are not reported by both men, and women with children. “They tell our staff some of their reasons for needing help is because they have gone thru verbal abuse, physical abuse and even some mental abuse” she said.
Women can stay at the Rainbow Shelter for 45 days and receive assistance from the staff in getting their lives back together. Taylor said, “If those 45 days are not enough they can stay at the Ark Shelter for up to 2 years, where they can get job housing resources, help with getting their children in school, medical assistance and counseling. But then there are those that decide to go back home.”
The city has received a number of bags filled with requested items that will be donated to the Gary Commission for Women. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson presented the bags to the agency on August 16 at the Commission for Women’s office located at 839 Broadway, Suite 300.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson thanked the citizens that donated items in the city’s effort to create more awareness about domestic violence and urged the community to continue to join the city as they work to reduce domestic violence in the City of Gary. She said, “It Could Happen to anyone women and men.”