YWCA Evanston/North Shore takes part in fundraising challenge

Marissa Mizroch, Reporter

The YWCA Evanston/North Shore is participating in the Allstate Foundation’s Purple Purse Challenge to raise awareness about domestic violence and raise funds for the services they provide to more than 800 women each year.

The North Shore branch of the YWCA was chosen along with 140 other charities to participate in the challenge, which runs from Sept. 2 to Oct. 3. Each charity competes to win $100,000, with Allstate providing matching incentives for each monetary goal reached.

“The Purple Purse Challenge is just one part of our program,” said Patricia Garza, director of strategic philanthropy for Allstate. “We’ve been involved in funding domestic violence services for nearly a decade. We do that through three approaches: funding direct services to help support women, second one is to raise awareness of the issue and the third is to expand knowledge in the field through leadership initiatives.”

The YWCA has been taking pictures of people posing with a purple purse to raise awareness about the challenge, as well as participating with local Evanston businesses to raise money.

“It has two purposes, this campaign, to raise awareness and raise money,” communications director Julie McBratney said.      

The YWCA is the only place in the northeastern Chicago area that provides a wide range of residential domestic violence programs. They assist victims of domestic violence with legal advocacy programs, emergency shelter and other programs, director of domestic violence services Wendy Dickson said.

“We have an emergency shelter where women and their children can stay with us up to 90 days, and they come from all over the country,” said Dickson. “We also have violence prevention programs from every grade from kindergarten all the way through college.”

The community education programs the YWCA runs work alongside Northwestern to educate students about domestic violence.

“Northwestern has paired with us for the past four years to provide dating violence training and service on campus,” Dickson said.

If awarded the $100,000 prize money, the YWCA has plans to grow their services to help more women in more ways.

“If we were to get the additional $100,000, we would be able expand our services specifically around advocacy,” McBratney said. “Legal advocacy and advocacy in hospitals are areas of growth for us right now.”

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in the United States. Ending the silence around the topic is vital, Garza said.

“I think that there’s a lot of interest in having people address the issue,” she said. “I think the first step is to break the silence, and I’m hopeful that doing that, we can end domestic violence. But the first step is to raise awareness.”

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