Event offers united front

WAPAKONETA — A county organization will be hosting a festival this weekend to spread awareness of domestic violence.

The Festival of Hope: Families Standing Together in Peace, hosted by the Auglaize County Crisis Center, will be held Sunday in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The festival begins at 2 p.m. with a vigil at Salem United Methodist Church. After the vigil, attendees are invited to participate in a walk to Veterans Memorial Park.

“Following the vigil will be the Walk of Hope, where those attending the vigil walk to the Veterans Memorial Park,” Auglaize County Crisis Center Director Shirley Longworth said.

At the park, a slew of activities will be available, including entertainment from Aaron Bump and BGQ barbershop gospel quartet. Children’s activities include a puppet show, pumpkin painting, games, face painting, a wagon ride and a bounce house provided by the YMCA among others.

“There will be activities for adults and families and activities for the children,” Longworth said.

Longworth noted that the festival was made possible through the collaboration of several area organizations.

“The festival is the result of an ongoing collaboration with a number of service agencies in the county and first responders that have existed over a great number of years,” she said.

This year, a community partnering committee has formed, including first responders, service agencies and members of the faith community, to raise awareness of domestic violence.

“These leaders, with myself included, have developed a forum that has served the purpose of establishing several goals for domestic violence prevention and risk reduction and safety planning for survivors and victims of domestic violence in Auglaize County,” Longworth said. “That forum has been titled ‘Partnering for Domestic Violence Response.’ Our committee has actually worked throughout the year to raise the level of awareness within the community to the dynamics of domestic violence.”

Longworth said committee members have been working toward a common goal.

“Our goal is to ensure that the needs and the safety concerns of both adult and child victims of domestic violence are met,” she said. “We have come together to create a common framework for understanding and a plan of action for building networks that will strengthen our partnership and therefore move toward effective risk reduction of domestic violence in Auglaize County.”

The committee has organized several tree plantings throughout the county this month, including ceremonies in Wapakoneta, Minster, New Bremen and Waynesfield. The Festival of Hope is the most recent installment of activities the committee has coordinated.

“One of the components was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which enabled us to collaborate together with our sheriffs department, our local law enforcement, Auglaize County Victims Assistance, Help Me Grow and some of the pastors within the area and concerned citizens,” Longworth said. “We  coordinated this particular plan of action that would enable us to raise awareness to domestic violence in our communities and hopefully at the same time ensure that the needs and safety concerns of victims are met.”

Longworth encouraged the community to attend the festival.

“We hope people will join us in taking a stand and partnering with us against domestic violence within our community,” she said.