Evanston organization brings awareness to sexual assault

Grace Johnson

After President Barack Obama dubbed April as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month on April 8, efforts are already evident in the Northwestern community.

A fundraising event at Whole Foods Market, 1640 Chicago Ave., and a demonstration to NU’s Sexual Health & Assault Peer Education by Porchlight Counseling Services aimed to increase education and start a conversation about sexual assault among college students, said Rachel Honig, outreach and resource co-coordinator for PCS.

PCS is the only nonprofit organization based in Evanston that provides free, confidential, off-campus long-term counseling to college victims of sexual assault. The organization will also help with activities at NU’s Take Back the Night event on April 30, Honig said.

“Most of our staff is volunteer-based,” she said. “We really want to get more people involved with the issue.”

PCS Outreach and Resource co-Coordinator Katelyn Holsclaw gave a demonstration to SHAPE trainees Thursday. Holsclaw’s presentation discussed the realities of rape on a college campus and included information about how to report rape and care tips for victims.

“Rape survivors should have options, and all these options should be presented to them,” Holsclaw said. “The power should lie in their hands, and the choices should be their own.”

This demonstration was just one in a series of training sessions for SHAPE members.

“After training, our members will be an outlet for campus resources and give presentations around campus,” said Lyzanne Trevino, organizer of SHAPE training.

The Thursday fundraiser at Whole Foods was part of a “5 percent” day where 5 percent of the day’s net sales went to PCS. The day also included “self-care” demos of do-it-yourself milk bath kits and tea infusions. Whole Foods sponsors 5 percent days four times a year, sponsoring different community-based organizations each time.

“Porchlight has a mission with a lot of integrity, heart and purpose in the Evanston community,” said Kristen Kaza, marketing and community relations specialist at Whole Foods. “We are giving them a platform to share their message.”

PCS’s involvement with SHAPE and Take Back the Night, as well as its fundraiser at Whole Foods, is all part of the organization’s movement to provide outreach services based in a community spirit.

One out of four college women will experience sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, Honig said.

“Sexual assault is specifically a big problem on a college campus,” she said. “We are here to provide services to this college age group.”

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