From the Jamestown Sun:
From “hope kits” to billboards, the Zonta Club of Jamestown [North Dakota, USA] has dedicated recent projects to helping victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking and raising awareness of the issues in the community.
Pam Phillips, district parliamentarian for Zonta, said such crimes tend to increase during the holidays.
“Weather is starting to cool, you’re inside more, you’re drinking beer at home more, so people are cooped up and temperatures rise, things fester and people become more violent,” she said.
Because of the said increase, the club gears projects toward these crimes during winter.
According to Jamestown Police Department data, such crimes don’t necessarily increase during the holidays, but scatter from month to month. In 2014, the median of domestic violence crimes in Jamestown was 32 crimes. In December, 49 such crimes were reported, which followed 29 in November and preceded 29 for January 2015.
In 2015, the median of domestic violence crimes is 28, with most crimes reported in March with 44, according to police data. Thirty-eight crimes were reported in October, and two were reported in November.
Mary Thysell, sexual assault services coordinator with the Safe Shelter in Jamestown, said crimes including domestic violence and sexual assault tend to be variable from month to month.
“There are some years where it’s crazy busy through autumn into the new year, and some years it’s really quiet,” Thysell said.
However, October serves as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and January is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, both nationally.
In October, the club sponsored a billboard near Dairy Queen in Jamestown to bring awareness about domestic violence to the community. The billboard reads: “Domestic Violence,” “Don’t Support it!” and “Report It!”
“We wanted to bring things to mind, to make people realize it’s everybody’s responsibility to report,” Phillips said.
The billboard will be up for two months — from Oct. 20 to Dec. 20.
The group also recently gathered supplies for “hope kits” to give to victims of sexual assault or human trafficking. One member of the club, Joan Halvorson, victim specialist for the FBI, encounters survivors of these crimes often and came up with the idea of a hope kit with Jane Austin, another local member of Zonta.
The kits include a makeup bag with toiletries, such as washing supplies, hair brushes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, face wipes and more. Also included in the kit are a pair of sweatpants, T-shirt, sports bra, sweatshirt, stuffed animal, slippers, socks, a fleece blanket and a $5 gift card to Wal-Mart.
Recently Halvorson traveled to Houston with hope kits to give to victims, and although she said some survivors were hesitant at first, they warmed up to the idea of accepting the gifts and were ultimately very grateful.
The club paid for the sweats, bags, some toiletries and $5 gift cards, but the remaining items were paid for by members of the club.
“We like to do hands-on stuff. We don’t like just to throw money at things,” Phillips said.
The club raised funds this year during a 50/50 drawing at the Jamestown Speedway during this year’s annual Stock Car Stampede, which helped the group fund the Safe Shelter in Jamestown and the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners of Jamestown. Zonta awarded Deb Fischer, head of SANE, with a $1,000 check at its annual meeting on Nov. 4. Zonta will be mailing the check to the Safe Shelter.
The remaining funds raised from the drawing fundraiser went to fund Zonta International, the Anne Carlsen Center and college scholarships funded by Zonta.
Zonta will host the first ever Outstanding Women Leaders conference at 10 a.m. March 12 at North Dakota Farmers Union, 1415 12th Ave. SE, in Jamestown. Brunch will be served, and a cost is yet to be determined.
“We want to recognize people who don’t normally get an ‘atta boy’ or an ‘atta girl,’ or they get no recognition at all,” Phillips said.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., will be the keynote speaker at the brunch.
Phillips said Zonta will be accepting applications for possible Outstanding Women Leaders candidates after Christmas, and as far as she knows, there won’t be strict stipulations on age or requirements and will be open to all Stutsman County community members.
It has not yet been decided where applications will be available or where to turn them in, Phillips said.
“I thought, owls are smart, women are smart, and having an award for smart women in Stutsman County makes sense,” Phillips said.