A New Direction Beverly Morgan Park’s Board President Jessica McCarihan has been with the agency since its beginning in 2011. She has been asked hundreds of questions over the years, but the ones that surprise her the most are from people who can’t believe that domestic violence occurs in our community.
“I try to explain that domestic violence is not selective, it affects every community, regardless of socioeconomic status, geographical region, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, ability, age or sexual orientation,” McCarihan said. “I also feel it is important to share statistics, especially the statistic that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. We still have more work to do to educate people about domestic abuse.”
On Sat., Feb. 9, McCarihan and the staff and the Board of the agency will be taking their message and mission to the 8th Annual Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence Benefit Day (WOWO) organized by the Morgan Park Junior Woman’s Club. From 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., 23 neighborhood fitness facilities will be offering a workout class with all proceeds going to AND. Each class will begin with a short presentation about AND, domestic violence and how victims in the community can find help.
“Outreach is one of the most important purposes of WOWO. When we have a chance to speak to a group of people at events like WOWO classes, we almost always find that we get a few phone calls afterward,” said McCarihan. “One year we actually had a victim walk into a WOWO site and ask the instructor to call AND for her because she didn’t have any safe way to contact us. They called and she got help because the instructor knew where to find it. We want everyone in our community to be as well-educated as this instructor so more victims can benefit from our services.”
To participate in WOWO, community members can register online at www.anewdirectionbmp.org/wowo and find a full schedule of participating facilities with class descriptions and times. The suggested donation is $25. Registrations are also accepted the day of the event at local facilities, however some facilities are limiting the number of participants due to space considerations. Check the WOWO schedule on the AND website or Facebook page for further information about space limitations.
AND is a local nonprofit that provides advocacy, support counseling and education to victims of domestic abuse at no charge. For more information about their services, visit www.anewdirectionbmp.org.