Domestic Violence Services aims for zero occurrences

  • By Natalie Reid Miller
    Staff writer
May 10, 2014
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From left are Relay for Life specialists Nancy Verderber and Amy Brooks and Kelly Young of Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania

Some symbols, like the pink ribbon signifying breast cancer awareness, are recognizable upon first glance. Other symbols can be, well, not so clear. A purple ribbon can indicate cancer, adoption or Alzheimer’s disease awareness, just to name a few.

It is this ambiguity that led the campaign to change the domestic violence and sexual assault symbol from the purple ribbon to the vanishing point, a turquoise circle that originated with the idea of a zero, as in zero occurrences of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“Our hope is to subtly start introducing this symbol into the community and get them to associate this with domestic violence,” said Samantha Lee, community education marketing specialist for Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The nonprofit, which provides services to residents of Washington, Greene and Fayette counties, has allied with in the quest to end domestic violence. They offer a 24-hour hotline, two 24-hour shelters, counseling and legal services. In addition, they provide community outreach, going into schools and educating children as young as preschoolers that “our hands are not for hitting.”

While domestic violence awareness month is not until October, the organization is already looking ahead, searching for volunteers as to act as committee members. The group’s ninth annual fundraising dinner, Peace Begins at Home, is Oct. 15 at the DoubleTree Hotel Meadow Lands.

Also, in the spirit of community improvement, Domestic Violence Services will donate the thousands of purple ribbons they have made over the years to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life of Chartiers Houston, taking place from 11 a.m. Saturday to 11 a.m. May 18 at Allison Park Elementary School in Houston.

“The idea is not to waste and to support another good cause,” said Lee.

The foundation will hand over about 3,000 purple ribbons to participants, who camp out overnight and take turns walking or running to raise money for cancer research. For Relay for Life supporters, purple is a symbol of overcoming adversity.

“When people see the purple ribbons, it reminds them that there is hope. Cancer can be beat. They are part of a movement,” said Nancy Verderber, Relay for Life specialist. “It’s nice when community groups can partner and help each other out,” she said of the donation. “We can use their purple ribbons to raise cancer awareness and share information about their group with a new audience.”

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