By Michelle Poirier 
BELLEVILLE – A café in downtown Belleville is working to raise awareness of violence against women and children.
Urban Escape Café  will be hosting the Expressions of Women art exhibit Thursday night.
“(We’re) hoping to get women together to tell their stories through their art (and) through their poetry, and give other women the chance to come alongside to hear those stories,” said Jennifer Loner, training and education co-ordinator at Three Oaks Shelter and Services  and one of the organizers of the event. “And maybe from that, share their own stories.”
The art show will provide information about the services that Three Oaks provides. It will also show how important it is for women to find community and ways to express themselves in order to heal, said Elise Hineman, another organizer of the event from Three Oaks.
“Violence against women is happening in every community,” Loner said. “So if we can continue to raise awareness and encourage women who have been through violence and are survivors, then we can get the word out there that there is hope, there is support, and we can make a difference.”
The event will feature art from women and is open for everyone to attend, Hineman said.
“I hope that the outcome is a feeling of connectedness and security,” Juliet deWal, owner of Urban Escape Café, said. “For not only the women involved who are showcasing their art but also (to provide) a greater sense of community for individuals who are lonesome or who have private sorrow that they can’t quite express.”
It will be a really good evening of togetherness, celebration and support, she said.
Expressions of Women is taking place Thursday at Urban Escape Cafe, 279 Front St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.