Domestic violence alliance urges more participation; 'Purple Ball' set Oct. 14

Oct 5, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Advocates for victims of domestic violence hope their outreach efforts during October inspire community members to come together in support of their friends and neighbors.

"If we really want to see domestic violence - and any kind of violence - decrease in our community, we need to start coming together," said Sydney Moller, executive director of the Fremont County Alliance Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault.

"If we know our neighbors - if we know who they are, learn their names and talk with them - we'll be a lot more likely to intervene if something is going on. So really we're just pushing community cooperation and collaboration."

Help after flooding

Her organization already experienced an outpouring of support from the community earlier this year, when the shelter in Riverton flooded due to a malfunctioning water heater.

Moller said the incident occurred in February around the same time other areas were flooding due to snowmelt.

"It was not related to the rest of the flooding, but it happened that same week," she said. "That's part of the reason it took us so long to get everything back up and running. ... Everybody was so busy."

For three months, she said, clients were sheltered elsewhere in the community while the facility underwent repairs.

Moller expressed appreciation for the donations the organization received during that time, though she noted that the Alliance also had to dip into its unrestricted funds, or "safety net money," to complete the work.

"We had to use a good portion of that to get the shelter operational again," she said. "If another emergency like that happens, our safety net is thin now. ... It was a little crazy. But we're so thankful the community wrapped around us the way they did. (We want to) recognize the community for coming through for us in that time."

An event held last week in Riverton to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month was intended to thank local residents for their help. Law enforcement and government officials spoke during the gathering in City Park, which was followed by a barbecue and the symbolic lighting of a tree on Main Street with purple lights.

Purple Ball

The next event recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month is at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the Riverton Holiday Inn, 900 E. Sunset Drive.

The Purple Ball features a dance, silent auction and raffle drawings.

"We're really excited this year to see the number of community partners and community members willing to donate ... to our raffle and auction," Moller said. "We hope to see everybody out there."

This week, however, Alliance associate director Donna Shaner expressed disappointment in the number of people who have purchased tickets so far for the ball.

Out of 250 tickets available, she said only 80 had been purchased by Thursday.

"We're really disappointed, because this is so important," she said. "We need support from the community, and we're just not getting it. ... It's very frustrating for us. (It) breaks my heart. These are human lives."

New office

The Alliance is opening a new satellite office this year to serve clients on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The facility at Black Coal Hall in Arapahoe will open Oct. 18 and maintain hours every other Wednesday.

"We will have a presence there for people that have difficulty getting into town," Shaner said. "It just lowers that barrier."

She added that meetings are available by appointment as well.

"If people need to have us come out and see them on other days or times, just give us a call," Shaner said.

A 24-hour crisis line is available at 856-4734.

Eventually, Moller said, she'd like to grow her staff to allow the Arapahoe office to be open full-time.

"For now we'll spread ourselves a little thin," she said.

Other offices already are open full-time, including the one at 510 E. Washington Ave. in Riverton and in the basement of the Fremont County Courthouse, 421 N. Second St. in Lander. Another office is open Fridays at the Dubois Town Hall, 712 Meckem St.

For more information or to purchase Purple Ball tickets call 856-0942.

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