On Wednesday, Jessica Garcia, the director of the Denison campus and Western Iowa Tech Community College’s (WITCC) southern service area, had the blonde highlights in her hair dyed purple by her sister, Melissa Kepford, all in the cause of raising awareness about services available for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
While the hair-dyeing was the finale for the observance of October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the real reward was the eight care packages that donations funded for survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
Faculty and staff at the Denison WITCC campus had their photos placed on jars. The “winner” was the person whose jar held most money at the end of the month.
That was Garcia, but others volunteered to join in the event. Rodney Tyo, the welding instructor, had a lock of hair above his forehead dyed; purple dye was applied to the beard of Kevin Stover, the heating, air conditioning and ventilation instructor; and Sara Klatt, director of TRIO Student Support Services, had the end of her ponytail dyed.
Other special promotions to raise awareness took place on four consecutive Wednesdays.
October 3: Free purple-frosted doughnuts.
October 10: “Polished Person”: Students were invited to have one nail painted purple to raise awareness about domestic violence.
October 17: “Purple Pumpkin Painting”: Students could decorate a pumpkin using various shades of purple.
October 24: “Packages of Hope”: Students were asked to create care packages for survivors of domestic violence.
Another month-long promotion was “Voices of Hope” for which people were invited to write words of encouragement on the windows inside the campus building.
The Western Iowa Tech Community College faculty, staff and students partnered with Centers Against Abuse & Sexual Assault (CAASA), Family Crisis Centers (FCC) and The Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence (CSADV) to raise awareness about services for those who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Michelle James, who serves Crawford, Ida and Monona counties for FCC, said she has also been working with Job Corps and businesses to raise awareness about the services available locally.
Cynthia Banda, a CAASA sexual assault advocate who covers Crawford and Monona counties, spoke to the WITCC college experience class – the first-year orientation class – about services, campus sexual assault and lawyers who provide free services through the Iowa coalition.
Banda added that she spoke to the Women in Business Impact Organization as well, and through that contact, a number of individuals said they would volunteer.
She said volunteers are always needed.
A sexual assault and domestic abuse response team is being organized, Banda continued.
The team is composed of county attorneys, law enforcement, nurses and anyone who provides help or services to victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
A meeting has been tentatively set for November 12 to set up the protocols to be used when someone asks for services.
James said local schools are getting involved with raising awareness through presentations, including teen dating violence presentations. The presentations help educate people to be aware of the signs that someone may be victim of violence.
“We’re doing that with business, too, talking to employers about signs they can look for in their employees,” James said.
Banda added that education is available to help people spot signs of human trafficking, such as tattoos where certain earrings in the ear to show that someone has claimed the individual as property.
“The presentations and trainings we give are all free,” said Banda. “We went to spread the word.”
Following are the contact numbers for services, more information or to donate or volunteer.
Family Crisis Centers: 1-800-382-5603
Centers Against Abuse & Sexual Assault: Hope Line - 1-877-362-4612; Denison office – 712-263-3765
Council on Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence: 1-800-982-7233