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‘Walk in Her Shoes’ … but any shoe will do
They want you to take a “walk in her shoes.”
A symbolic walk from the Amy Burnett Gallery at 408 Pacific Avenue to the Norm Dicks Government Center at 345 Sixth Street will show support for victims of domestic violence. The walk, set for 5 p.m. Oct. 4, is a fundraising event of the YWCA of Kitsap County.
According to YWCA Executive Director Linda Joyce, this is the second year for the event and may see hundreds.
“We’re taking advantage of the First Friday Art Walk that happens monthly in downtown Bremerton,” said Joyce. “It’s going to be a fundraiser for us with the emphasis on ‘fun.’”
The YWCA is encouraging businesses, community groups, neighbors and friends to put together a team to join in the walk. Teams can choose to have themes and dress accordingly in costumes.
“Many people want to wear high heels to symbolically represent women who are survivors of domestic violence,” she said. “But we’re not limiting it to that. In fact, this year we’re saying, ‘Any shoe will do.’ ”
Tennis shoes, combat boots, sandals, or dress shoes are just fine, she said.
Walkers will walk the hill to the Norm Dicks Building where there’ll be entertainment, music, hors d’ oeuvres and an auction. Walkers can walk without taking part in the after-party which will require a $50 a ticket to attend.
One of the items to be auctioned, will be shoes that have been decorated by local artists.
“We’ll have at least 10 pairs of shoes that have been decorated and made into something useful like bookends for your office,” she said. “And there’ll be other donated artwork as well to be auctioned.”
Mosiac work, yarn items, and titles are expected.
Among the artists who will be decorating shoes is Amy Burnett. Last week she selected a size 16 red pattened-leather high-heel.
“You won’t recognize it,” she said, of the shoe when asked about her decoration plans.
Burnett has been a longtime supporter of the YWCA. She’s participated in many fundraising events and loves the idea of the walk. Joyce credited her with helping keep the doors open in the early years.
YWCA board member Jessica Guidry, who is helping to chair the event, said Burnett is just an example of the strong community support the Y has to make something like the walk successful.
“We’re encouraging creativity,” said Guidry. “We want to see some great themes.”
Joyce and the others who are planning the event know the need. They are familiar with the work that is done at the YWCA’s Alive programs and shelter for survivors of domestic violence. The domestic violence programs at the YWCA helped 6,000 clients last year. They took 2,500 calls on their crisis hotline. More than 90 women and children lived at the shelter until they could find more permanent safe housing. Another 1,200 victims were helped by legal advocates. And another 800 clients were helped through the YWCA’s family services program.
Last year’s walk made about $25,000. “This year we set our goal at $40,000,” Joyce said.
Because of cuts in funding from all levels of government, raising funds for the shelter has taken on an even more crucial role.
“There is such a need,” said Joyce. “When many mothers leave with their children, they are on the run and they leave everything behind them. They often come to the door hungry, with no clothes, no money, not even their prescriptions. We make sure they are cared for.”
She also stressed that the Y has offices in Port Orchard and on Bainbridge Island and serves the entire county.
This year’s honorary walk chairs are Mayor Patty Lent and Ed Wolfe. And Joyce said she’s hoping to see lots of men take part in the walk, too.
“Women need to challenge their significant others to come out and walk with them,” she said. “With or without heels.”
Another part of the work that the YWCA does regarding domestic violence is prevention and education. They work with young women in area schools and through other nonprofits. They plan a prevention conference in October at Olympic College.
GEMS, Girls Empowerment Mentors Service, a group that empowers girls to stand up to violence, will have members at the walk to help anyone who needs a hand getting to the after-party, up the hill on Pacific Avenue.
Joyce summed up the motivation behind all the work on the walk.
“Home is supposed to be the place where you are safe,” she said. “For victims of domestic violence, that’s not the case. And that’s just so sad.”
To find out more, go to www.ywcakitsap.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Teams can register through the website, and tickets can be purchased at 360-479-0522.
Teams also are invited to just “show up to walk.”