— Raising awareness about domestic violence.
That is the focus for the entire month of October, which is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The Victims Intervention Program in Wayne County is laser-focused on raising awareness and its ongoing mission of helping victims rebuild their lives.
A wide variety of events have been planned by VIP for the month, ranging from a candlelight vigil to an informal dinner and dance.
"This is not just a job for us," said Michele Minor-Wolf, executive director of the VIP program.
VIP has been a very successful program in Wayne County and has helped thousands of victims of domestic violence over the years.
Wolf would prefer there were no victims, but she also understands the reality.
In July alone, they worked with 66 victims of domestic violence. And those were just the ones who made contact with VIP. Many cases of domestic violence go unreported.
In August, there were 44 cases.
Wolf said those numbers pretty much mirror the numbers from the previous year.
"It's staying about the same," said Wolf. "But it's not going down."
In fact, domestic violence crimes have steadily risen over the years and it's an ongoing problem in Wayne County and across the nation.
There will many events in October to remind people about the problem of domestic violence.
Here's an outline of those events:
• A candlelight vigil will be held on Oct. 1 at The Cooperage in Honesdale. The event is from 6-7 p.m. and is open to the public. The Cooperage is located on Main Street.
Page 2 of 4 - The vigil is to remember those who have been lost by acts of domestic violence.
• All month long there will be silhouettes displayed in local businesses.
Wolf said the silhouettes are part of the Silent Witness Program.
Each silhouette represents a real story about someone who was killed in a domestic violence incident. The victims are all from Pennsylvania, some from Wayne County.
• On Oct. 13, the VIP program will be featured on radio station 95.3 DNH. A radio program focusing on Domestic Violence Awareness Month will air at 7 a.m.
• "Paint the town Purple" is a new awareness activity to Wayne County.
Local business owners are being asked to incorporate purple into their businesses, preferably through a window display.
For instance, a clothing store might feature a purple outfit or a bakery might feature a purple cake.
This will be Oct. 12-18 and Wolf said members of her staff have been in contact with local businesses about participating.
She said Pike County has been doing the program, quite successfully, for quite a while.
"We want to duplicate what they are doing," said Wolf.
Persons are also being asked to wear purple on Friday, Oct. 18 to show their support for the cause.
• On that same day, a dinner and dance will be held at Ehrhardt's Waterfront Resort at Lake Wallenpaupack.
Called "Jeans and Jewels," the event is to raise funds for the VIP program, something which is always needed.
Appetizers and cocktails are at 6 p.m. with a buffet dinner set for 7.
Page 3 of 4 - There will be plenty of dancing along with door prizes and a silent auction.
Wolf said the theme of "jeans and jewels" is to allow people to come in casual attire and have a fun-filled evening.
The cost is $50 per person with all proceeds going to the VIP program.
For more information or to make reservations, call VIP at 570-253-4401.
• On Oct. 17, a free business seminar entitled "The Workplace Response to Domestic Violence" will be held in Honesdale.
Sponsored by the Greater Honesdale Partnership, the event will be from 6-8 p.m. at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce community room on Commercial Street.
The program is designed to allow people to have greater awareness of the issue of domestic violence and how it affects people both at home and in the workplace.
It is to help increase your knowledge about how to best support abused employees in the workplace.
It is also to help people get involved and become part of the solution at work and in the community to strengthen response to domestic violence through continued discussions.
The seminar will feature a documentary entitled, "Telling Amy's Story."
Amy is a real person who was killed in a domestic violence case in State College.
It is told by a detective who was heavily involved in the case and who outlines various aspects, including things that were missed which may have saved her life.
Wolf said it is a powerful presentation and she encourages everyone to attend. She stressed it is not just for business owners but for everyone.
"It can be anyone," said Wolf of domestic violence.
Page 4 of 4 - During the seminar, warning signs will be highlighted and general information will be given about domestic violence.
Pre-registration is required because seating is limited. Deadline for registration is Oct. 11.
To register, contact the GHP at 570-235-5492 or contact VIP.
• Wolf also said that another training for volunteers will be upcoming. The dates have not yet been set but will be announced in the near future.
She said a recent training resulted in two more people now able to help man the 24-hour VIP hotline. The training is free.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering is asked to call VIP.
• Another program which is being developed by VIP is the Lethality Assessment Project (LAP).
This program is based on model from Maryland and involves the initial contact by law enforcement officers with victims of domestic violence.
Currently, police departments in Hawley and Waymart are involved in the program.
"We are hoping to expand it to include everyone in the county," said Wolf.
The program gives officers training in how to deal with domestic violence cases and also allows victims to immediately contact VIP staff.
Wolf said this is an important step because in almost all cases, victims are distraught and need that guidance.