Rising for justice

LANTERN: Clarice Vavro holds her lantern as heat from the flame builds. Many people had difficulty getting their lanterns to fly, as winds were high and temperatures were cold on Friday night. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

LANTERN: Clarice Vavro holds her lantern as heat from the flame builds. Many people had difficulty getting their lanterns to fly, as winds were high and temperatures were cold on Friday night. (Pioneer photo/Miranda Roberts)

BIG RAPIDS – A sea of pink and red paper lanterns sprinkled the cold night sky as Big Rapids community members took a stand to end violence against women.

The second annual event, hosted by Women’s Information Service, Inc., at The Gate Sports Bar and Bowling Center on Valentine’s Day, sought to bring attention to domestic violence and sexual assault.

“People don’t always talk about violence against women with sexual assault of domestic violence,” said Jessica Slendak, WISE volunteer. “It’s kind of swept under the rug and no one really talks about it. One of the biggest steps to getting it to stop is just to get people to talk about it.”

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(Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)

WISE Executive Director Kelley Samuels said it was important for people to participate in the event, whether that meant signing the One Billion Rising for Justice banner, lighting a lantern or sharing why they were taking a stand against violence.

“This is the day they celebrate love, and we need to love each other and take care of each other,” Samuels said. “We can’t do that if we are ignoring violence that is happening at our neighbor’s house.”

Strengthening the voices of people in the community and educating people about the facts of violence against women and the services WISE provides were focuses of the event.

“I really want the community to be more vocal about not letting this happen to people,” Samuels said. “Allowing violence and these unhealthy relationships to continue is something we shouldn’t be whispering about.”

Many people lit lanterns in support of the cause, rising collectively as the wind carried them high.

“This is a really cool thing,” said Teresa Vigor, a Ferris State University student as she attempted to light her lantern. “It is a great visual representation.”

“My friend and I participated in Vagina Monologues for the last two years and we didn’t have them this year,” added Ferris student Clarice Vavro. “So I came to support this.”

The level of community support for One Billion Rising continues to grow each year.

“I’m so thrilled with the amount of support we have gotten from the community,” Samuels said. “It’s really great to know so many people really do care.”

For more information about WISE, visit wiseagainstviolence.org.

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(Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)

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Posted by Miranda Roberts

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