October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Catholic Charities wants your help in raising awareness of the issue of domestic violence in our communities.

For the last three years, Catholic Charities’ First Step Victim Services has hosted an awareness event called, “Take a Hike, Domestic Violence!” This year, First Step is celebrating 20 years of providing victim services and holding two special events. The Hike will be held Saturday, October 14th from 9:30 am to noon starting at the Schuyler Outreach Food Pantry (St. Mary’s Center, 112 10th St) in Watkins Glen. Registration begins at 9:30 am, with a brief program starting at 10 am. At 10:30 am, participants will hike the Watkins Glen State Park Gorge. Pre-registration for the Hike will be available online until noon on October 11.

In addition to this event, Catholic Charities is partnering with the City of Elmira Police Department Victim Services Program to bring the first annual “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” Event to Eldridge Park on Saturday, October 7th from 5 pm to 7 pm. This year’s theme is Kelley’s Legacy: Knowledge & Hope. The program, featuring survivors’ stories and local officials, will begin at 5:30 pm. The Shine the Light Committee includes Hope Arnesen, Kim Bourgeois, Katie Rhodes, Lori Waters, Lindsay Winters, Brenda Woodard and Bethany Worrey. If you are interested in helping at the Event, please sign up here

 The desire is to increase awareness, provide education and hope during these events as well as during the entire month of October. Please plan to join us for one or both of these family-friendly events. They are open to the public and made possible by generous donations from local individuals and businesses.

There is no registration fee for either event, but donations of $5 gift cards to local restaurants, grocery stores or gas stations will be accepted to assist victims in obtaining needed items and support. These donations will go to First Step Victim Services and the Salvation Army Safehouse.

The Shine the Light Committee is also challenging local businesses, organizations, churches, and individuals to help “Shine the Light” on domestic violence by displaying purple ribbons or using purple lights wherever they can during the month of October.

“The purple ribbon campaign is a symbol of hope, courage, survival, honor, and support for those who have endured domestic violence. Displaying this symbol of hope sends a message to the survivors of domestic violence in our community that we care about them and that we are dedicated to raising awareness and putting an end to domestic violence.  It also inspires other people to get involved,” stated Bethany Worrey, Victim Services and Housing Supervisor.

The Shine the Light Committee will be hanging ribbons along Franklin Street in Watkins Glen and Church Street in Elmira for the month of October.

For more information on these events, contact Katie Rhodes at 607.734.9784, ext. 2133 or visit the Catholic Charities’ website (cs-cc.org) or Facebook page.

The First Step Victim Services Program provides advocacy & referral services to all victims of crime in Chemung & Schuyler Counties, with a strong focus on victims of domestic violence. For additional information about Catholic Charities’ First Step Victim Services, please contact Catholic Charities at 607-535-2050 or visit their page.