Shoe gala brings in big bucks for YWCA

Ralph Marshall dressed himself in brightly colored shoes and clothing for the YWCA’s “Take a Walk in Her Shoes” event. - Seraine Page
Ralph Marshall dressed himself in brightly colored shoes and clothing for the YWCA’s “Take a Walk in Her Shoes” event.
— image credit: Seraine Page

There’s nothing like taking a walk in someone else’s shoes, especially when it is for a good cause.

Last Friday, the YWCA hosted “Take a Walk in Her Shoes” auction and walk to raise awareness about domestic violence in Kitsap County. The second-year event proceeds for the YWCA totaled $12,000 by the end of the evening.

One hundred residents gathered on the corner of Pacific Avenue in downtown Bremerton in a variety of colorful outfits and shoes, to show support for the cause while having fun. Attendees signed up in teams and as individuals, depending on their preference.

Some, like Ralph Marshall, drew inspiration from celebrities when it came to choosing the proper attire.

“I picked out the wardrobe,” he said, while swinging around a colorful umbrella. “Elton John was kinda my influence.”

Others took a more historical approach to dressing up. Kitsap Bank team members wore matching white togas and gold headbands for a Cleopatra theme. Some were more casual, like the Lowe’s group that wore red hard hats and matching shirts reading “Lowe’s Heroes” on the back.

Participants took a walk from Amy Burnett’s Gallery to the Norm Dicks Government Center and into an auction where 15 decorated shoes were displayed for bidding purposes. Each shoe came with extras like a bottle of wine or gift card. Participants were invited to mingle prior to the auction outside of the city hall meeting chambers where light snacks were served. The shoe with the top bid was a “glass slipper” created by local artist Lisa Stirrett and sold for $350.

The funds will be used for services to help victims of domestic violence who come to the YWCA.

“Funds will be used to support YWCA ALIVE programs which provide a comprehensive range of supportive services for survivors of domestic violence and their children,” said Theresa Frame, YWCA, executive assistant.

Prior to taking the walk, YWCA Executive Director Linda K. Joyce watched as supporters chatted amongst themselves on the sidewalk and in the street, blocked off for the safety of participants. Joyce remarked that the funding of the YWCA has been a result of a community that actively takes part in protecting and serving its residents — more than 6,000 each year.

“It’s events like these that raise awareness and raise money,” she said. “We’ve learned to appreciate any number.”

Joyce showed extreme gratitude to one particular attendee who was brave enough to admit she had used YWCA to protect herself and her daughter from her now ex-husband.

Carissa Daniels who donned a large tiara and wore a purple pant suit —the color for domestic violence awareness — was all smiles despite the fact that she was on crutches. Even in her condition, she planned to walk the walk and take every step up to the auction inside the center.

Daniels skipped through a few shelters until she found security in the YWCA in Kitsap County. That was years ago, but Daniels still keeps her connections open with the staff who helped her find a way out of a dangerous situation with her special forces ex-husband.

It was after he nearly drove the family into the Puget Sound that caused Daniels to run away as far as she could with her daughter in tow.

“It was not even safe for us to walk outside,” she said of her experiences in previous shelters. “He had money; I did not.”

Dressed as Miss Washington, Daniels came to the event to raise awareness in a proud and vibrant way. Now, as a domestic violence awareness advocate, Daniels isn’t afraid to stand up and speak out. She’s currently enrolled in the social work program at Seattle University. She credits YWCA for lifting her up and getting her the legal services needed to sever ties from a violent situation.

“It means so much to be able to support an organization that helped me to get and stay free,” she said. “The work that they do is lifesaving.”


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