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Spreading the word: Women’s Center, Blueprint for Safety host open house at K.I. Sawyer

Christy Phillips, Gwinn advocate for the Women’s Center, prepares to welcome the public to an open house held Thursday afternoon. The Women’s Center showcased its new satellite office location in Gwinn while raising awareness for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Journal photo by Ryan Spitza)

GWINN — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the Women’s Center is doing its part to help spread the word.

The Women’s Center and Marquette County Blueprint for Safety hosted an open house on Thursday afternoon to showcase their new satellite office in Gwinn and raise awareness about domestic violence.

The new office is located at 402 Third St. in K.I. Sawyer and is housed in the same building as the K.I. Sawyer Heritage Air Museum. The free event was open to the public. Attendees could browse the museum, receive information on the Women’s Center and domestic violence awareness and even enjoy a treat from Towners Pastry & Chocolate Shoppe.

Christy Phillips, Gwinn advocate for the Women’s Center, said the new location is a place where victims of domestic violence can go for help and comfort.

“We just moved into this building and we’re partnering with Blueprint for Safety as well as the museum itself so that we can have clients come out here and feel comfortable,” she said. “We want to let people know that we’re here and we also want to raise awareness for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“We set up our whole new office a couple of months ago, so we’re just kind of showing off that we are still here and that we are around so that people know where to go to find us.”

The Women’s Center continues to add locations throughout Marquette County as well.

“We’re expanding our offices to other areas,” Phillips said. “We do have one open in Ishpeming right now that people can go to and it’s being staffed by people every day of the week.”

Local law enforcement will also have an office at the K.I. Sawyer location.

The Marquette County Blueprint for Safety is “an inter-agency effort to enhance our community criminal justice response to domestic violence crimes with victim safety and advocacy central to response,” according to its website.

The program was founded in 2017 and is a collaborative effort between the Women’s Center, other local victims’ services, Marquette County Central Dispatch, the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office, 96th District Court Probation and Pretrial Services, and all eight Marquette County law enforcement agencies.

It’s important, organizers said, as domestic violence continues to impact many people across the nation.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S., equating to over 10 million women and men per year. One in four women and one in seven men have become victims of severe physical violence in their lifetime.

More than 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines daily.

In Michigan alone, 41.8% of women and 23% of men experience intimate partner physical violence, rape or stalking in their lifetime.

Phillips stressed the importance of getting the word out there.

“We just want people to be aware that domestic violence is a very prevalent thing and it can be everywhere you go,” she said. “We just want people to be aware of what’s going on and for them to know how to get help, how to reach out and the ways they and other people can be helped.

“That’s the whole point of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is so people know that this does exist and that it could be your friend, it could be your neighbor or it could be a parent. You just never know until people speak out or until you start seeing signs. It’s just creating awareness that this has been an ongoing thing for years, so we’re here to help people when they go through that situation. Our doors are always open to anybody who finds themselves in that predicament.”

Phillips encourages area residents to lend a helping hand at the Women’s Center.

“We’re always looking for volunteers to come help us,” she said. “We have lots of opportunities in that light.

“One of our biggest ones is working at our Harbor House with everyday tasks. Some of it is meeting victims at the hospital after they’ve been through sexual assault or that kind of thing, and we’re always looking for volunteers to do everyday office things as well.”

For more information on the Women’s Center, visit www.wcmqt.org, call its Marquette office at 906-225-1346 or visit its Facebook page.

For more information on the Marquette County Blueprint for Safety initiative, call Blueprint coordinator Diane Ziegner at 906-225-8317.

For more information on the K.I. Sawyer Heritage Air Museum, visit www.kishamuseum.org or call 906-236-3502. The museum’s hours are 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

If you experience domestic violence, call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit www.thehotline.org. The Women’s Center also has a local support hotline at 906-226-6611 or 1-800-455-6611.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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