Center for Survivors gears up for holiday season

November 10, 2018

Editor’s note: On Oct. 6, The Columbus Telegram began a multi-week initiative highlighting different aspects of the Columbus Area United Way, a nonprofit organization committed to focusing resources to measurably improve the education, health and financial stability of the community. The series concludes today; read previously published stories on our website, columbustelegram.com.

The holiday season is a busy time for the Center for Survivors.

The nonprofit organization provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault within Boone, Butler, Colfax, Nance, Platte and Polk counties. Recently, the center wrapped up National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October and has several events in the works, executive director Lia Grant said.

On Dec. 1, the center is hosting its third annual Cooking for a Cause. Last year, 14 different groups met in the center’s parking lot, 3103 13th St., to cook a barbecue dinner for the community. All money raised at this year’s event is going toward supporting the center.

“It’s a big thing for them, they just love doing this,” volunteer coordinator Traci Pilar said about the cooks who volunteer their time for the event. “They love donating and doing this, it’s a fun day.”

This year the dinner will go from 1-5 p.m. At the moment, Pilar said the details for the event have yet to been finalized and are subject to change.

“It’s amazing all they can do with smoking meat,” Grant said. “It smells amazing that day.”

Also approaching is the center’s annual holiday program. The center pairs families anonymously with donors who are willing to purchase gifts for them off of their wish-list for Christmas.

“It just makes such a great impact for a family,” Grant said

People and organizations interested in becoming a donor for the holiday program are encouraged to contact the center, said child advocate Sheri Gillotte, who runs the program.

“It’s very emotional. I cry the most during this time of year as it’s amazing to see these families,” Gillotte said. “To get what they really want, what was on their wish list, sometimes is overwhelming.”

Also throughout this month, Columbus Motor Company is hosting a No Shave November Competition. Men compete to see who can grow the best (and not so best) beards. The competition had a suggested $20 entry fee and all proceeds raised will be donated to the Center for Survivors.

Grant said the nonprofit is grateful for the donations from the event and from groups like the Columbus Area United Way. She said the United Way’s funding is particularly important because it can be used for a variety of center programming.

“United Way is able to fill in some of those gaps and fund some of the things that we feel are very are really crucial like prevention and education,” Grant said.

Last year, the center helped 583 different clients, provided 3,297 meals and received 673 calls to their crisis line. Grant said one day they hope to be able to end the causes of sexual violence in the community.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault affects everyone,” she said. “We would like to work ourselves out of a job, and maybe we can do that someday.”

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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