On Baldwin Street Fundraiser to Support the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing

Photographer / JWcreative.indy

Beacon of Hope Crisis Center, a non-profit 501(c)(3) Christ-centered organization located on the south side of Indianapolis, is designed to empower victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to become self-sufficient. Through its Crisis Intervention, Victim Advocacy, Counseling, Purple Sneakers Young Adult, Criminal Justice, Economic Sustainability and Foster Pet Programs, the agency offers free services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, assisting them with overcoming barriers that hold them in abusive situations.

“Our purpose is to help people get out of dangerous situations and into success so they can survive and thrive,” says Board Spokesperson Jackie Ponder.

The center helps victims secure safe housing and provides them with economic support to get them back on their feet and out of shelters. Last year the agency served 1,122 clients.

“We want them out in the community with a job, living a life free from the threat of domestic violence,” says Ponder.

The center trains with area police departments. Its victim advocates also help victims fill out protective orders and accompany them to court. Statistics show if a victim has a support system, they are more likely to leave the abusive situation and prosecute.

“Very rarely is it just physical abuse,” says Ponder. “Financial, emotional, and mental abuse go hand-in-hand because the goal [of the abuser] is to separate their victim from all support so they’re the only person the victim can rely on.”

In addition, the agency provides victims with basic training on how to keep a budget and do banking. The foster pet program is key because women often won’t leave their abusers because they don’t want to abandon their pet, which is often their only form of emotional support. The Purple Sneaker program provides middle school, high school, and college students with information on how they can protect themselves from sexual assault.

“Acquiring Cheryl’s concept of Purple Sneakers and melding and growing it into a full-blown program among our services here at Beacon has been a joy,” says Sandra Ziebold, CEO/Executive Director of the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center. “Year-round our advocates are helping young adults 13–26 stay safe through education, prevention, intervention, and by defining healthy relationships and what to do about unhealthy ones.”

Educating parents about the warning signs is crucial since one in three teens report being in a violent relationship.

“Emotional abuse starts early in a teen’s relationship and can set the stage for relationships later in life,” says Ponder. “Some of the most violent domestic violence homicides are related to individuals who became involved when they were young adults.”

So if your vivacious teen suddenly becomes quiet or stops wearing makeup or dressing a certain way, pay attention. And keep your eyes and ears open at work, too.

“We do 30-minute ‘Lunch & Learns’ where wo go to businesses and share the warning signs managers should look for to determine if someone under their supervision is in a violent relationship,” says Ponder, who notes that domestic violence costs businesses millions of dollars annually in lost productivity and efficiency. “If you can intervene and provide support, you’re not only helping your employee into a better life, but you’re actually helping your bottom line.”

Though Beacon is funded through grants and partnerships, fundraisers help raise money to support their programs. For instance, they currently provide a crisis line that goes until 1 a.m., but they would like to be able to offer it round-the-clock.

As the idea of a fun summer event began to take focus, the concept of taking their message “to the street” kept coming up.

“What better way to bring people together than a street concert for people of all ages to sing and dance to the music of the Woomblies Rock Orchestra and HeartStone Crossing Band?” asks Cheryl Steele, Board Member with the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center. On Baldwin Street, to be held June 8 from noon-5p.m, will be the second annual street party/fundraiser for Beacon of Hope.

Johnson County resident Keely Correll can’t wait.

“Johnson’s BBQ Shack is my favorite food vendor,” says Correll. “To find out they are at the core of this upcoming street party and that Taxman Brewing Company is also hosting—I’m in!” says Correll.

The truth is that you never know what someone is facing at home.

“It’s people we go to church with, the person who sits next to you in English class or in the cubicle beside you,” says Ponder. “It happens everywhere. The thing about domestic violence is there are no socioeconomic or racial boundaries. But there is hope. You can break free and get out.”

Advance tickets for On Baldwin Street are $20 (18 and over) and $10 (ages 13-17). Those 12 and under get in free. Rain date is June 9. For more information about Beacon of Hope, call 317-731-6131 or visit beaconofhopeindy.org.