Over 30 members of the Chillicothe community attended the "Light Up the Night" event last night (Thursday) at the Livingston County Courthouse. The event was sponsored by the Safe Haven Center for Victims of Domestic Violence, the new domestic violence center in Chillicothe. The shelter changed management July 31 of this year, which is now run locally. Board member Ann Burchett said that the "Light Up the Night" event was a way to bring awareness to the new shelter.
"The shelter that was here, there's kind of some bad feelings from people because of the way that it was managed," Burchett said. "We want to turn that around. We're a new place, new people behind it and we want to let them know that it's here."
"Light Up the Night" is a national event which raises awareness of domestic violence. It is usually held in October, national Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the color purple is denoted as the color to symbolize domestic violence awareness. At Chillicothe's event, purple lights were strung on trees outside of the Livingston County Courthouse.
The Second Brigade Motorcycle Club began the evening by revving their engines and riding out of the courthouse parking lot together. Several speakers then presented their experiences with domestic violence. Addelyn Newsom, daughter of Angela Newsom, told the story of her mother's experience with domestic violence. Angela was killed by her boyfriend in a domestic violence episode three years ago. Addelyn discussed the effects of losing her mother at a young age and how people need to be aware that children are often affected by domestic violence situations.
Jennifer Burnett, a survivor of domestic violence, spoke about her journey to overcome domestic violence. She offered a positive story, and said that through the help of the community and the shelter, she was able to get out of the situation, both for herself and for her children.
A couple of former domestic violence advocates also spoke, stressing the importance of the role advocates play in the lives of domestic violence victims. After they spoke, attendees were invited inside the courthouse to drink hot chocolate and pick up flyers with information on domestic violence and the Safe Haven Center.
Burchett said the importance of events like this is to remind people that domestic violence does happen locally.
"It's really important to remind people that there is domestic violence in Chillicothe and Livingston County," Burchett said. "People have the tendency to think that it doesn't happen here, or they don't understand why the woman would stay in the relationship. We just want to make people think about, and get educated a little more on, the dynamics of domestic violence and to support victims in our shelter."
The Safe Haven Center will be holding a spaghetti supper fundraiser Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Grace Episcopal Church. Burchett said the shelter is still in need of volunteers. If interested in the fundraiser, or in volunteering with the Safe Haven Center, contact Ann Burchett at 660-646-5506.