A Masquerade ball will be taking place on Feb. 29 to benefit the efforts of Safe Journey, a nonprofit organization that provides free and confidential domestic and dating violence services.
"It is to help us support the services that we provide to victims of domestic violence," said Executive Director Lori Palisin.
The theme is "Unmasking the Faces of Domestic Violence." It will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. at the American Legion LeBaron Post 237, 9225 Route 6, Union City.
Tickets for the event are $25 per person, and can be purchased online at tinyurl.com/2020ball.
Formalwear is encouraged but casual attire is welcome.
"Our biggest thing is just come — come and support Safe Journey, come and support victims in domestic violence whether you are in your semi formal attire or just jeans," Palisin said.
Masks can be worn but are not required. Participants who don't have a mask can get one at the event per a donation.
Attendees can choose to wear masks or place a mask on a designated display that will be provided to honor victims of domestic violence.
"In honor of or in memory of, those masks really do represent victims," Palisin said. "Victims wear those masks and hide it from the world."
Whatever the attire, participants are encouraged to wear purple, which is the color used to raise awareness of domestic violence.
There are two anniversaries being celebrated with the ball. One is the fifth anniversary of the Rural Erie County Domestic Violence Task Force, established on Feb. 25, 2015.
The rural task force was established as a coordinated effort to address domestic violence in the rural county and is comprised of more than 40 members from state and local law enforcement, education, public housing, juvenile probation and social services, a press release said.
Also established on Feb. 25 was Safe Journey's PurpleOne initiative, a community education initiative to eliminate domestic violence in rural Erie County and the surrounding areas. This year is its first anniversary.
After event planning started, it was announced that United Way would no longer be funding shelters in Erie County, Palisin said.
That is a $52,000 loss for Safe Journey, who used the funds as foundational money for the organization, making public support more critical than ever, Palisin said.
The event will feature live music by the bands Rock Avenue and Crossfire as well as a keynote speaker, Gail L. Black, of Westfield, N.Y., who will be speaking around 6:30 p.m.
Black is the author of "Asses and Angels: A Journey From Abuse to Achievement," a memoir of her own domestic violence survival story, published in 2012.
There will also be a buffet-style dinner, a live auction with Spartansburg's Steve Cox as the auctioneer, a silent gift auction, a lottery tree, a 50/50 and a cash bar.
For more information, call Safe Journey at 814-438-2675.
Palisin said victims of domestic violence should know that there is help out there.
"We're here to listen, to help you, to support you and to just let you know that somebody cares about you," Palisin said. "We're just a phone call away."
Palisin went on to say the biggest thing someone can give to a friend in a domestic violence situation is to listen.
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