by Joseph Quigley
Locals gathered to combat violence against women at Riverside Park this Saturday, raising funding and awareness with the “Run to End Violence”.
The run was organized to aid the Three Oaks organization, which works to provide shelter and services for abused women and their children in Belleville, Quinte West, Hastings, and Prince Edward County.
Proceeds from the run will go toward funding the Three Oaks’ Second Stage Housing project. The project is working to build affordable transitional housing for abused women and children.
Women and their children can stay in Three Oaks’ shelter for up to six weeks after fleeing violent situations. After their stay in the shelter, transitional housing can offer them a place to live for up to a year as they re-establish themselves before finding more permanent residences.
“With our agencies Second Stage Housing project underway, we thought it’d be awesome just to organize something like this to raise some funds for that,” said Shelley Haggarty, one of the organizers of the event, who also works with Three Oaks.
Construction of the Second Stage Housing project is ongoing, and is expected to complete sometime this summer. Over $1.2 million has already been raised for the project. When completed, the facility will be able to house up to 16 people.
Organizers stressed the importance of the project for supporting abused women in the community.
“More options for affordable housing are needed,” said Haggarty. “If we don’t have that, it’s a choice between staying in a violent situation, and where do you go, where do you find a place to live?”
In 2012, Three Oaks serviced 1,585 crisis calls in addition to sheltering 144 women and 46 children. Three Oaks also offers counseling services, and gave 1,256 counseling hours to women during that year. The organization continues to provide these services year round.
Three Oaks executive director Sandy Watson-Moyles, who helped at the snack station during the run, sees Second Stage Housing as an important addition to their services to the community.
“I think it will have a huge impact on the community because it’s mostly geared to single women who already find difficulty finding housing, in our community” said Watson-Moyles. “It gives them the opportunity to live in a safe environment for up to a year so that they can really look at all their options, extend their counseling time with our outreach counselors and our transitional workers, and make some decisions that aren’t necessarily knee-jerk based on their current situation.”
In addition to fundraising, the event offered a chance to give exposure to women struggling against domestic abuse, according to organizers.
“Anytime there’s an event like this, it gives us an opportunity to be acknowledged publically for the work that we do,” said Watson-Moyles. “To bring the attention back to the women in our communities who experience violence in their intimate relationships.”
Organizers and participants were happy with the response the event received from the community.
“I think it’s been really positive,” said Haggarty about how people have responded to the event.
“I think it’s a great event,” said Samantha Hayward, treasurer of the board for Three Oaks, who participated in the event. “It’s good to get people out here, get some recognition for ending domestic violence and violence in general, and supporting Three Oaks at the same time.”