Avalon Center commemorates Domestic Violence Awareness Month

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

In a single year, the Avalon Center serves more than 1,500 survivors — women, men and children — of domestic violence or sexual assault throughout the greater Williamsburg area.

As Domestic Violence Awareness Month runs through October, the nonprofit organization hopes to spread awareness and garner support in the community through a pair of events.

“We want to make sure we are reaching out to the community as much as we can,” said Priscilla Caldwell, Avalon’s director of development.

“In Her Shoes” has Avalon partnering with Williamsburg Police at the Williamsburg Community Building Oct. 24 to offer an opportunity for perspective. The role-playing program demonstrates a woman’s escape from abuse, with attendees taking on that role and others incorporating police, the courts and beyond.

“There’s nothing more personal than a firsthand experience,” Caldwell said.

Character cards help drive the action as participants make choices to determine the scenario’s outcome. The event also includes other educational materials over the course of two hours, and those who turn out needn’t stay the whole time.

“We’re excited about that. I think we’ll have a really good turnout,” Caldwell said. “Of course, it’s open to anyone, anywhere.”

Juanita Graham, Avalon’s director of outreach services, said it’s the first time the organization is planning such an event on a community-wide scale. She hopes it conveys a “fuller appreciation for what our clients deal with daily and the choices they have to make.”

It’s part of a larger effort at Avalon to reach out in as many ways as possible, including to people who might be less familiar with the issues at hand.

“It can be hard to think about for people who aren’t touched by these issues,” Caldwell said.

In pursuit of that, the Avalon Classic Golf Tournament will raise money for the shelter through golfers and sponsors at the Ford’s Colony Country Club Nov. 2. Domestic violence statistics posted at each hole emphasize the scope of the issues at hand.

Last year, the tournament sold out with 120 players on a single course. Caldwell hopes to surpass 150 players as the 2018 event expands to two courses.

With the #MeToo movement and other social issues keeping domestic and sexual violence in the national spotlight, Caldwell said the center has seen an influx of people calling for support and volunteers eager to help.

Graham said these issues aren’t limited to any particular group based on traitssuch as race, gender or sexual orientation. Such violence doesn’t discriminate.

She emphasized that the ramifications of such issues extend beyond one couple to impactchildren, extended family, social workers and more throughout the larger community.

“It does affect society on a greater level,” Graham said. “People don’t necessarily stop and think about that.”

Want to go?

“In Her Shoes” runs 5:30-7:30 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Williamsburg Community Building, 401 N. Boundary St. Free and open to the public.

The Avalon Classic Golf Tournament tees off Nov. 2 at the Ford’s Colony Country Club, 240 Ford’s Colony Drive. Registration begins 11 a.m. Cost is $125 per golfer. To register in advance and for more information, visit avaloncenter.org.

To reach Avalon’s 24-hour helpline, call 757-259-5051.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by email at sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com, by phone at 757-790-3029 or on Twitter @sethbirkenmeyer.

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