A year ago on a warm night in June 2012, folks assembled into the house of the bold and brave Rachel Valentine to donate to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. When the number of donors reached a total of 50, Rachel’s friends brought out the clippers and gave Rachel a punk cut to remember. This past weekend, the tradition lived on.
Arriving at Orange County Social Club on Saturday night, I was taken aback at how many people had gathered inside to support the Center. I pulled out my camera just in time to capture the first cut: the brave Amado, the son of Board Secretary Lydia Perez. Others joined in and soon, the room filled with applause and punk spikes supported by hair gel. The amazing stylists from Mina’s Studio provided an array of fresh styles to our team, including Rape Prevention Education Coordinator Rachel Valentine, Rebecca Honeycutt (wife of Crisis Response Coordinator Joey Honeycutt), Education & Finance Coordinator Alexis Kralic’s family, StartStrong Intern Amanda Baldiga, the Ruiz-Perez family, and Heather Wegerzyn.
In accordance with the punk DIY mentality, the night became more unceremonious as the gifted stylists left, leaving Rachel and myself with a pair of buzzing clippers and a flock of nervous volunteers. Community members began an impromptu “live auction,” offering to shave their heads for funds raised on the spot for the Center. The punk cuts performed by yours truly turned out “just fine” even if a little sloppy, and I was even able to get my own hair all punked out by Rachel. It felt incredible, not only to feel the summer breeze on the sides of my head, but also to feel the overflowing sense of love and gratitude among all the folks involved.
Each year, we recognize individuals and organizations that have made substantial contributions to our cause of ending sexual violence. Because we did not have a ceremony in 2012, we presented awards for both 2012 and 2013 during our Gratitude Gala in April:
The Mary Ann Chap Award for Community Service was presented to El Centro Hispano, Stephanie Willis of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, and Megan & Gary Crunkleton.
The Margaret Henderson Award for Service & Self-Care was presented to Brendan Moylan of Sports Endeavors, Inc.
When we ask kids about good touches, they talk about hugs, holding hands, and high fives. They often draw pictures showing how happy a good touch can make them.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of our education program to prevent child abuse in Orange County! Through Safe Touch, we have taught countless children how to stay safe and healthy. Research shows that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer sexual abuse before turning eighteen. We’re working hard to combat this grim statistic, reaching 10,000 young people and adults every year through our education programs.
In honor of our 30th anniversary, please join our #30for30 Campaign! For $30 a month – just a dollar a day – you can support our life-changing education program. You can make sure the children in our community don’t have to keep secrets that hurt them. Help us inspire more drawings like this one, full of smiles and Safe Touches.
It’s simple! On our donation page, click “I would like to make a recurring gift,” and enter the amount of your monthly gift in the box underneath. Please contact us at email@example.com with questions or comments.
When people ask me what it’s like volunteering at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, my first response is to say, “It’s so much fun!” People are usually surprised to hear that, of course, but it’s the truth. I am a Community Educator with the OCRCC, and it is a blast.
We CEs go into Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County schools to present violence prevention programs to elementary and middle school students. With very young children, we talk about good touches and bad touches and what to do if somebody makes you feel uncomfortable. With older children, we teach bystander education (teaching them to stand up for what’s right). With these middle school students, we even start to deconstruct rape culture and get at the underlying cultural assumptions that lead to sexual harassment. And over and over, I am amazed at the enthusiasm, maturity, and grace that students of all ages show.
Training to volunteer at the OCRCC is intense. There are days when you come home very depressed and discouraged. Your heart aches as you witness the damage done to a community by sexual violence. But when you start doing programs, it changes. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, by any means, but you realize that the vast majority of kids out there really do want to do what’s right. They don’t want to hurt people. They don’t even want to be complicit in a culture that hurts people. Even when they’re too young to understand the details, they hope for a world without violence, without harassment, without abuse. And you get to be the person who shows them what that world looks like.
Alice Drozdiak supports the Center in multiple capacities, including as a Community Educator. Alice has presented Safe Touch programs to elementary school students and Rape Prevention Education programs to middle school students for over a year.
Find out more about being a Community Educator at ocrcc.org/ce. Fall training starts in September 2012. Apply online by August 31.
Office Address: 1506 East Franklin St. Suite 200 Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 4722 Chapel Hill, NC 27515