ALLEGAN, Mich. (WOOD) — Organizations across West Michigan are working especially hard this month to raise awareness about the issue of domestic violence and the resources available for victims and survivors. Sylvia’s Place in Allegan is no exception.
“It’s hugely prevalent,” said Brittany Swart, a volunteer coordinator at the shelter. “We’ve had people from– survivors from churches come to us, we’ve survivors from rural areas come to us, we’ve had survivors from different states come to us, different counties, so it’s everywhere, unfortunately.”
Sylvia’s Place was founded in 1996 after a woman named Sylvia Allen lost her battle to domestic violence at just 28 years old. Since then, the shelter has made it a mission is to offer support for domestic violence survivors every step of the way.
“We wish we didn’t have to be here to… we wish this wasn’t a problem, but at the same time we’re glad to help as many as we can,” Swart said.
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Sylvia’s Place is doing several things to raise awareness. These efforts include lighting the Allegan bridge purple, offering purple lights for people to put up at their home or business, putting up a flag display at the Allegan Police Department, and hosting a virtual fall fest.
“Normally our fall fest is in person. It’s usually people buy– get a physical ticket for the event and then attend and then there’s usually like an auction and things like that. This year and last year are kind of different,” Swart explained.
On Oct. 14, the shelter will host Fall Fest From Home. Instead of buying a physical ticket, Sylvia’s Place is asking people to make a donation online or send a check/money order by mail. People are then encouraged to order takeout from their favorite restaurant, take a photo, and share it on social media with the hashtag #FallFestFromHome. Several local restaurants will donate a portion of sales to Sylvia’s Place in honor of the event.
“Not not quite like our usual event, but last year we got a lot of support with our virtual fall fest from home and this year we’re hoping to have the same good turnout,” Swart said.
The issue of domestic violence, Swart believes, isn’t talked about enough, but it’s something she feels should be. And although many people might think there isn’t much they can do to help, even just a simple conversation can go a long way.
“Just making sure that we’re all kind of aware of what it is and then just kind of making sure that the people you know, that you are open to them and that they can talk to you and that they can feel safe talking to you about whatever.”
She also encourages everyone to get educated on the resources available in their own communities, so that they can share that information with others.