Julie Fevola can rattle off the numbers with such ease that it's hard to comprehend the humanity behind the statistics: One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
Fevola, the executive director of Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, points out that if we heard the same statistics on a disease, it would be seen as a national epidemic and dramatic steps would be taken to stop the scourge. Instead, domestic abuse remains a largely taboo subject with the exception of the occasional entertainment world scandal. Every day, though, the violence happens; police are called; wounds are tended; help is offered.
That is why each year silhouettes are placed outside the Christine Ann Center in October as part of Domestic Violence Awareness month. They bear witness to the epidemic. They don't allow you to look away or pretend that it is some abstract number. It could be your sister, daughter, aunt, best friend; or your first kiss. There is a face; a person; a family, behind the numbers.
The silhouettes and banners aren't the only activity at Christine Ann. Its main building is in the final stages of a major renovation that adds both office space and living space for families staying at the shelter. The expansion honors the history of the home while making it more secure and homey.
Domestic abuse is a large and complex problem. So big, in fact, that it can turn a sincere desire to do something into indifference. Helping make a difference could be as simple as providing a soft set of sheets for a family at the shelter.
Oshkosh Northwestern Media is partnering with the Christine Ann Center for Make A Difference Day 2013 on Saturday, Oct. 26. from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 206 Algoma Blvd. Northwestern employees will be voluntering and the community is encouraged to do the same. There are three ways you can help out:
1. Distributing door hangers. Volunteers will receive maps and directions for placing door hangers on homes throughout the community with information about the center and how residents can support its mission.
2. Doing yard work and tidying up around the shelter. Volunteers can roll up their sleeves and assist with improvements on the grounds of the center.
3. Dropping off donations. On Saturday, Oct. 26, residents are asked to help re-stock the center by dropping off basic supplies for families, including sheets (twin sets), towels and other everyday necessities such as kitchen and cleaning products and toiletries. Volunteers will be on hand to take donations from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Donations may also be dropped off at the Oshkosh Northwestern, 224 State St., through Oct. 25.
To sign up or receive more details, you may contact the Christine Ann Center at (920) 729-5727. There are activities planned across our community and the country for Make A Difference Day. This is the second year The Northwestern has taken part in the largest national volunteering event. I'm happy to report that the storage shelves we built last year at the Day by Day Warming Shelter are still standing.
In addition to the event at Christine Ann, we know of two other Make A Difference Day events. There is the annual downtown Oshkosh Chili Cook-off where teams can compete for the title and the public gets a chance to taste. Proceeds benefit the warming shelter. See oshkoshchilicookoff.com for details. Volunteers are also invited to Aurora Medical Center from 9 a.m. to noon to work on crafting projects. The crafts will be donated to area nursing homes, care center and hospitals.
Many small acts of kindness multiplied can make a difference in a profound way whether it's dropping off a set of twin sheets, enjoying a bowl of chili or crafting something with care and love. If I don't see you at Christine Ann, I hope you'll take a few moments to help out anyway you can.