As lawmakers in Washington try to hammer out a budget agreement and avoid a fiscal crisis, another issue is also on the table during the lame duck session of Congress — the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act or VAWA.
In April, a version of VAWA was approved by the Senate by a vote of 68 to 31, despite some Republican opposition to certain provisions of the bill. But the battle over VAWA’s reauthorization has now moved to the House of Representatives and supporters of VAWA are concerned that, with a little more than two weeks left, the law may be allowed to expire.
The United States has made tremendous progress on violence against women and girls domestically since the passage of VAWA in 1994,” said Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Barack Obama when the measure passed the Senate. “Since the passage of the Act, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. The Violence Against Women Act, something that should be above politics, is mired in just that on the Hill. The Senate passed a strong bipartisan bill three months ago. The House should take up the Senate bill so we can get this important bill to the president's desk. Women should not have to wait a day longer. As the vice president has said, Congress should act now to protect women.”
In Philadelphia, a recent report was released detailing the scope of violence against women in the city. Titled Violence Against Women in Philadelphia — A Report to the City, the study indicated that the Philadelphia Police Department handled 145,904 calls that were related to domestic violence in 2011. The number of arrests increased from 4,927 to 6,256 between 2009 and 2011.
“The Philadelphia Police Department should continue its positive and constructive relationship with the city’s domestic violence and rape crisis agencies,” the report said. “Philadelphia is one of the few, if not the sole city in which victim advocates are allowed to review every rape case. And the department involves local domestic violence agencies in efforts to improve all services to victims with the goal of reducing violence against women.”
Such violence was displayed on Nov. 28 with the murder of Rasheedah Blunt, a 27-year old mother. According to police, the victim was shot multiple times inside a second floor apartment in the 3500 block of Old York Road just before 11:30 p.m. Investigators are looking for her live-in boyfriend, Dominique Haynes, 33. Police were called to the location following a violent argument in which neighbors reported hearing several gunshots. They found Blunt in the bed dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Two children, a 3-year-old boy and the victim’s 6-year-old daughter were present in the residence but were not harmed.
In February, Tiffany Gillespie, 24, was six-months pregnant with her third child when she was allegedly shot to death by her boyfriend, Aaron Fitzpatrick. Investigators said that Fitzpatrick killed Gillespie following an argument in which he tried to convince her to get an abortion and she refused.
The Violence Against Women Act was originally drafted by then Sen. Joe Biden and signed into law by Pres. Bill Clinton in 1994. It was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. The law provides grant programs that help local law enforcement in identifying and prosecuting domestic abuse offenders and sexual predators, as well as programs that assist the victims. The new version would restructure and consolidate grant programs and create new programs to raise awareness on college campuses. GOP lawmakers are concerned about provisions covering undocumented workers and members of the LGBT community.
State Sen. Leanna Washington, a survivor of domestic abuse, said that with recent budget cuts on the state level, the federal government can’t turn its back on victims of domestic violence.
“In Philadelphia victims of domestic violence have been turned away from agencies that could help them but don’t have enough beds to accommodate them. The state doesn’t have enough beds for these women and because of the budget cuts, funding for these agencies have either been scaled back or cut entirely,” she said. “We need this law and I’ve urged my friends in the Senate and Congress to support this. We typically see a rise in domestic violence in times of economic hardship and during the holidays. We’ve cut welfare benefits, what else are we going to cut? City Council just recently authorized $3 million to help provide additional beds for these victims but much more is needed. Some people might think, ‘Oh this doesn’t affect me’ but it does. Just because no one is saying anything doesn’t mean someone in your family isn’t being abused. Many of these victims suffer in silence.”
He touched the lives of thousands, and it was in his honor that hundreds gathered to say farewell to “a scholar with an African mission.” The funeral of Dr. Edward W. Robinson, Jr. was held Friday morning at the church in which he was born and raised, the A.M.E. Union Church, in the heart of North Philadelphia.
Just outside the church, a dozen drummers of all ages played in the midst of an oppressive heat wave. All morning, city dignitaries streamed through the church to pay respects to the educator and his family.
While his body laid in repose, images of Robinson in various stages of his life played in the background, as ushers carried baskets of fans and circulated through the aisles with bottles of cold water. The several hundred gathered fanned themselves endlessly as they comforted their hearts in the words offered by friends, colleagues and family members during the two-and-a-half hour service.
Robinson's casket, draped in a United States flag, was flanked by floral displays in the colors of the Pan-African flag — red, black and green — with one especially stunning arrangement forming the shape of the continent of Africa.
Proclamations were read from Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter, City Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, State Senator Leanna Washington, and Congressman Chaka Fattah, along with resolutions from the Institute for the Preservation of Youth, the Paul Robeson House, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, Chaney University Alumni Association and the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP. Also noted in the audience were music producer and educator Kenny Gamble, producer Bob Lott, activist Pam Africa, Judge Thomasina Tynes, Rep. Dwight Evans and Philadelphia Sheriff Jewell Williams.
Remarks were offered from every branch of Robinson's life - from political to civic to personal. Speakers included Christine Thomas Wiggins, Founder of IMHOTEP Charter School; Ali and Helen Salahuddin, founders of the D'ZERT Club; Activist Michael Coard, Esq.; African-American scholar Dr. Molefi Kete Asante; Cody Anderson, former WDAS General manager and Dr. Mildred Johnson of Virginia State University, and Rev. Dr. W. Wilson Goode, former mayor of Philadelphia. “Dr. Robinson served his generation in an outstanding manner,” noted Goode. “The question is, who is going to serve this generation?”
“A great soul has passed this way,” said Asante. “A great man has lived among us.”
The amazing life that Robinson had lived and shared with those closest to him was obvious in the various titles accorded him: father, grandfather, great-grand-father, great-great grandfather, brother, uncle, friend, and most importantly, husband.
Robinson's widow Harriet eschewed the podium, instead choosing to stand next to the casket as she recited a poem while holding the arm of her beloved husband of 41 years. “I wanted you for life, you and me in the wind. I never thought there would come a time that our story would end. ... Maybe all I need to know and if I listen to my heart, I'll hear your laughter once more. And so I’ve got to say I'm just glad you came my way. It's not easy to say goodbye.”
The Urban Youth Racing School — the locally-based initiative founded in 1998 by sports marketer Anthony Martin and supported by NASCAR and Sprint — has teamed with the U.S. Navy NAVSEA (Naval Sea Systems Command) to improve the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) levels for urban, college-bound students.
The two parties have created the Urban STEM Academy Center of Excellence, a state-of-the-art building and related programs designed to answer President Barack Obama’s call that America refocus on STEM advancement, especially among high school and college students.
The two entities will hold a joint program presentation in Saturday, September 8 at 11 a.m. at the Marine Barracks and Parade Grounds on Broad Street in the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
According to the racing school, the new USA Center for Excellence will engage students in STEM-related careers and pipelines them into college programs for degrees in STEM fields. The center will also collaborate with various government agencies, schools, churches and various groups of other stakeholders in crafting and growing the initiative.
United States Navy NAVSEA Commander Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy will join Integrated Systems Director Jimmy D. Smith in making keynote addresses during the presentation. Mayor Michael Nutter, Congressman Bob Brady and State Senator LeAnna Washington are scheduled to appear.
Coupled with Obama’s recent executive order focusing on education among African-American youth and the fact that only 1.3 percent of high school minority graduates go on to earn STEM-related degrees, the importance of such an initiative is paramount.
Aside from this new initiative, the Urban Youth Racing School offers four other distinct programs: The Build-A-Dream program, which exposes grade-school students to STEM-related programs in an automobile industry setting; Naval Engine Design, geared toward students with an interest in a naval career; Driver Team Development, which serves as the next step for graduates of the Build-A-Dream program, and the advanced, year-long Driver Team Development program, for students who also complete the Build-A-Dream program and show a passion for a career in motor sports.
“When there’s a big job to be done, it’s hard to think of a better partner than the United States Navy. We are very excited to be working with Vice Admiral Kevin McCoy and Integrated Warfare Systems Director Jimmy D. Smith on the Urban STEM Academy initiative,” said Martin, who also serves as executive director of the racing school. “Our missions are so compellingly synergistic. The inner-city youth we have been training and mentoring are precisely the recruits the US Navy needs to step up as current active personnel are concluding their careers in the service.”
Senate passes measure, but leaders say no time left for House to act
Senate Bill 1115 — which included wide-ranging charter school and special education reforms —effectively died on the floor of the Pennsylvania Legislature last Tuesday when the State Senate approved the bill but left little time for the House of Representatives to vote on it the following day. House Speaker Sam Smith said that there was simply not enough time to act on the complicated bill.
State senators passed SB 1115 with a 33-16 majority, and Senator Anthony Williams is the lone locally-serving senator to vote in favor of the bill. Notable nay votes came from Senators Lawrence M. Farnese Jr., Vincent Hughes, Shirley M. Kitchen, Michael J. Stack, Christine M. Tartaglione and LeAnna M. Washington.
And considering that state lawmakers will probably not take up any bills during the post-election period, it could mean a permanent shelving of the bill and its elements. State Senate Majority Whip Pat Browne introduced SB 1115, which was initially buttressed by early bipartisan support.
According to the Education Law Center, the legislation would have addressed problems with the state systems for funding and accountability of special education for students with disabilities. Prior to last Tuesday’s inaction by the House, the Senate Education and Appropriations Committee last spring twice unanimously passed SB 1115.
SB 1115 would have amended the Public School Code of 1949 and also allowed for the establishment of a Special Education Funding Commission, along with proving funds for special education student achievement. SB 1115 would have also spurred charter school funding reforms, which would have drastically altered the method in which the state funds charter schools. The bill would also bring into line the commonwealth’s reimbursements to statewide school districts, which presently subsidizes the charter school system.
In a recent report by Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, in relation to the nationwide average, Pennsylvania spends about $3,000 more per pupil to educate students in traditional brick-and-mortar schools, while the commonwealth spends more than $3,500 to educate children in charter and cyber charter schools. Without naming any specific bills or legislative efforts, Wagner’s report shows that the state could save up to $315 million if it undertook several charter school funding reforms.
The School District of Philadelphia alone pays roughly $838 million to fund charter schools in the district, a major point of contention as the district deals with a budget gap approaching $300 million. The failure of SB 1115 has caused heated contentions between parties on both sides of the issue, and has even caused similar-minded education organizations to butt heads on the legislation.
StudentsFirst Pennsylvania — the statewide effort of the national educational non-profit StudentsFirst with more than 1 million members that pursues education reforms across the board, blamed the bill’s failure on legislators kowtowing to a strong statewide lobbying effort.
“Last [Tuesday], the Pennsylvania House of Representatives failed to take up SB 1115, effectively killing a bill that, while not perfect, would have taken important steps to improve the quality of school choices for parents. Unfortunately, legislators caved to pressure from special interests that put the interest of children last,” said StudentsFirst Pennsylvania State Director Ashley DeMauro. “Although this session of the Pennsylvania General Assembly has come to an end, we must build on our progress and use this as an opportunity to continue to work with the governor’s administration and Pennsylvania legislators to craft a comprehensive measure that includes an accountability system with better authorizing and monitoring structures that allows high-performing charters to continue to do what works.”
Officials with the American Federation of Teachers Pennsylvania — whose ideology mostly matches that of StudentsFirst Pennsylvania — believes the legislators’ failure to move on SB 1115 was a wise and prudent decision, and one that showed a certain toughness by the state’s lawmakers.
“The Pennsylvania House adjourned without taking up SB 1115, which was amended to include ill-advised charter school ‘reforms’ that would have removed charter school authority and oversight from parents, local taxpayers and school boards and given it to the state Department of Education. Proponents of the charter amendments, which were tacked onto a special education funding bill with broad and bipartisan support, did not have enough votes to pass SB 1115,” said AFT President Ted Kirsch. “It took courage and wisdom for House members to let SB 1115 die without action at the end of the two-year session. Charter reform is overdue, but giving the Pennsylvania Department of Education the authority to hold, amend, and renew charters for multiple charter school organizations would have done an end-run around local communities.
“The playing field between district, charter and cyber charter schools, academically and fiscally, must be leveled,” Kirsch continued. “But SB 1115’s amendments were the wrong way to do it. AFTPA members thank House members for ensuring that the important issues around charter school governance will have a chance to be considered openly, carefully and with full public input in the future.”
Browne was travelling and unavailable for comment as of Tribune deadline. Officials with the School District of Philadelphia haven’t had proper time to review the decision regarding SB 1115 and withheld comment until they do so.
Data provided by non-profit organization Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools show that there are 105,056 Pennsylvanian students enrolled in charter schools, representing 6 percent of the entire statewide school-going population; it also showed that more than 44,000 students are on charter school wait lists and that a full quarter of School District of Philadelphia students attend charter schools.
PCPCS also sided with StudentsFirst in blasting the inaction, releasing a scathing statement that also pinned SB 1115’s failure on a strong special-interest lobbying effort.
“The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools is incredibly disappointed that the House of Representatives have chosen to bow to special interest groups over the well-being of the children of this state. In failing to pass SB 1115, the House rejected three years of work by people who have been sincerely and passionately dedicated to crafting legislation that increases accountability for charter schools and provides better quality educational options for our children,” the statement read in part. “This lack of action by the House continues to deny hope to our most vulnerable children, is a stand against higher standards and accountability, keeps charter legislation in Pennsylvania 15 years behind the best educational practices and is a national embarrassment for the Commonwealth.
“Why this happened is a good civics lesson for our children. At the last minute, all of the work to provide a more accountable and transparent education system was destroyed by misinformation and intimidation by organizations that represent the entrenched special interests in the educational monopoly.”
Pennsylvania State Senator LeAnna Washington (D-Phila./Montgomery) shared her story of rising from a victim of domestic violence to a passionate advocate for others during a recent visit to Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The nonprofit organization Need Indeed invited Washington to speak to seventh-grade students at Woodrow Wilson as part of their year-long project on forms of relationship violence.
Washington recalled being a teenage mother, high school dropout and victim of domestic violence. She encouraged the students to tell someone if they are being abused or if they know someone else who is a victim.
“If you know that someone is doing something wrong, tell somebody,” Washington said. “Don’t allow anyone to touch you in a way that you know is wrong and keep it a secret.”
Washington told the students they need to take responsibility for their actions, too.
“Picture yourself in the middle of a circle,” she advised. “You can’t let things into that circle that will hold you back in life. Don’t hate somebody because they hate you. Don’t fight somebody just because they fight you. We are responsible for what we do and for finding our own path in life.”
In Washington’s final advice to the students, she stressed the importance of speaking out for themselves and seeking help.
“You can’t allow abuse to control you; it could destroy your life,” Washington said. “Don’t keep it to yourself. There is help available to overcome incest, rape, and domestic violence.”
Washington represents the 4th District, which consists of parts of Montgomery County and the City of Philadelphia. Washington has served in the Senate for six years, since May 2005, when she won a special election. Prior to serving in the Pennsylvania Senate, she served from November 1993 to June 2005 in the PA House of Representatives, representing the 200th legislative district. Washington currently serves as Democratic Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee. She also serves on the Democratic Policy Committee as the Deputy Chair, as well as the Community, Economics, and Recreational Development, Finance, State Government, Urban Affairs and Housing, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees. Washington is also a member of the Children's Trust Fund Board.
It’s time that we begin treating child rape for the serious crime it is — and setting bail that fits the crime would be a good place to start.
The bail set for accused child abuser Jerry Sandusky was woefully inadequate. The bargain basement $100,000 unsecured bail spoke volumes about the District Justice Leslie Dutchcot’s underlying friendship (she donated money and volunteered at Mr. Sandusky’s “Second Mile” charity) and unrelenting hero worship stature for Sandusky. Her bail minimized and marginalized the victims, likely deterred other victims and witnesses from coming forward and potentially endangered other children in that community.
In reviewing the grotesque and disturbing testimony specified in page after page of the Grand Jury report, one has to wonder why any judge would think a man accused of such repugnant crimes is worthy of leniency.
It’s safe to say that many, many people accused of far lesser crimes have been required to pay far steeper bail amounts, or summarily denied bail.
Apart from the despicable nature of these alleged acts of child rape, if you look at the Sandusky case, the purported number of victims and breadth of time over which the crimes took place cry out for a far tougher bail standard.
Why was the bail so low? Why was this accused child rapist given the freedom to move about the community unfettered for the holidays?
Even after new victims came forward and public criticism reached a feverish pitch following the first bail arrangement, Mr. Sandusky’s re-arrest warranted little more than a manageable $250,000 bail amount and ankle monitoring device. Once again, I am perplexed and outraged by how the judicial system continues to coddle this man.
One of the most disturbing aspects of providing bail, or even sentencing leniency for those who rape and victimize children is that study after study has shown a trend toward pedophiles reoffending. Under a 1999 South Carolina sex crimes study, it was reported that serial child molesters victimize between 360 and 380 children during their lifetime. A separate study revealed that more than a third of girls and 16 percent of boys are sexually abused before they turn 18.
In most cases, these child abusers cannot stop themselves; so we as a society must do what it takes to stop them.
Take away Mr. Sandusky’s celebrity status and advantageous connections throughout that central Pennsylvania region and one has to wonder how his arraignments would have been handled if he were some no-name.
In my view, either the district justices failed their community by affording Mr. Sandusky a sweetheart bail deal, or Pennsylvania’s judicial system harbors a misguided and indifferent attitude about innocent children who are raped and harmed by adults who view them as prey.
If it is the latter, count me among the first who will support new tougher standards on how these cases are reported, investigated and prosecuted. Look for my name as a sponsor or co-sponsor of legislation calling for tougher mandatory sentences, minimal parole opportunities, new accountability measures for judges, and stronger protections for our children.
I have already introduced a bill that would establish an independent “Office of Children’s Ombudsman” to serve as a strong advocate in investigating complaints concerning government services for children and families such as child protective services, foster care, adoption and juvenile justice services. This agency would probe complaints on agency mismanagement that endangers kids. It would also weigh in on legislative issues and serve as a strong voice for children statewide.
As a survivor of child abuse myself, I am appalled at the systemic failures and archaic attitudes that continue to render our children vulnerable and helpless. This needs to change.
State Sen. LeAnna Washington, a Democrat, represents Philadelphia.
If you live in Northwest Philadelphia, expect to see busy volunteers with clipboards and voter registration forms asking, “Do you need to update your voter registration?”
The reason this question is pivotal in neighborhoods such as Mount Airy, West Oak Lane and Germantown is simple: Some of the city’s most ardent voters live in Northwest Philadelphia, but many neglect to re-register to vote when they move or change their name.
Now with the new Voter ID law, some just need to update their voter registration so their name, address and other personal information on the IDs match the voting record.
Among the groups who will be trekking through Northwest Philadelphia commercial corridors and knocking on doors will be the nonpartisan Pennsylvania League of Women Voters.
“The new Voter ID Law passed by the legislature this spring raises onerous new barriers to the ballot box,” said B.J. Phillips of Northwest Philadelphia.
Phillips serves as the Voter ID coordinator for the Philadelphia League of Women Voters. The group is basing their grassroots Voter ID headquarters at 310 W. Chelten Ave. in Germantown.
“We are pulling together an ambitious plan to educate our fellow citizens about the new law,” Phillips said. “The Voter ID rules have changed almost weekly as the Secretary of State’s office tries to implement a sweeping and inherently confusing new law. So, we plan to carry our educational message to the large majority of voters who already have valid IDs as well as helping those who need to acquire the ID the need for Nov. 6.”
Already on the group’s agenda is finding out where the summer block parties and neighborhood festivals will be located. They will be making guest appearances at community organization meetings and before church groups. They are also visiting long-term and personal care homes to provide photo IDs for residents.
The Voter ID Coalition’s Germantown office will be active this summer. At the West Chelten Avenue location they are offering training sessions on the new Voter ID legal requirements that help prepare people to speak to the groups or congregations they belong to.
“This is an excellent primer for those who volunteer to handle phone calls for help, advice, media support and other demands at the new coalition headquarters,” Phillips said. “Our goals are high, but they are within the reach of an organization that was born of the struggle for the right to vote. Above all others, this newest battle for universal suffrage is ours to fight.”
Just before the spring primary race the Northwest Philadelphia Coalition held their Voter ID session in partnership with KeepingMyVote.org. The event was held at the New Bethel AME Church, 6153 Germantown Ave. It was sponsored by state Sen. LeAnna M. Washington, state Reps. John Myers, Mark Cohen, Dwight Evans and Cherelle Parker, as well as Councilwoman Marian Tasco.
State Sen. LeAnna M. Washington of Mount Airy has her portrait hung in Benbow Hall at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia’s (LTSP) Brossman Center. The unveiling of the honor was done in a brief ceremony held at the seminary located at 7201 Germantown Ave. on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 9:30 a.m.
The accolade was given because Washington, who represents the Fourth Senatorial District, has spearheaded efforts to secure funds from the state to help pay for the state-of-the art structure. Washington secured a $250,000 grant to aid in the construction of a connector between Brossman and the century-old Krauth Memorial Library. This gives the handicapped access to this historic resource center.
“I am really excited that this seminary was so gracious in recognizing me this way,” said Washington after the ceremony. “I always try to do all I can do when it comes to bringing funds back home. It’s clear this campus deserved these funds because they are truly a part of this community. They are Christian leaders in Northwest Philadelphia and around the world.”
The Rev. J. Louis Felton, the new pastor of the Mount Airy Church of God in Christ and pastor to Washington, was on hand. He said that Washington’s contributions to the seminary proved that there need not be a separation between church and state. He pointed to the fact that this is often the case in countries like Canada and Norway.
“As far as church and state though we may be separated we are not divorced,” said Felton. “We can still have a relationship where we come together for the good of the whole. I think that Sen. Washington is a fine example of how church and state can have a balanced relationship in doing thing that are nurturing and beneficial for our communities.”
In his remarks, the Rev. Philip D. W. Krey, LTSP president, commended Washington’s contributions to LTSP and Northwest Philadelphia. He said that she has shown this through her domestic violence walk and annual banquet on behalf of victims. “No public official has done more for this school than you have,” Krey said.
“These are challenging times for the seminary and challenging times for political leaders,” added the Rev. Dr. John Richter, chair of LTSP’s board of trustees. “We are grateful for your partnership and generous commitment to do what you have done for this little corner of God’s kingdom.”
The program also included a brief religious service delivered by the Rev. Dr. Jayakirian Sebastian, LTSP chaplain. She called the seminary “a real anchor” in Mount Airy and stressed that LTSP is not just located on Germantown Avenue but “is really a part of the community.”
Also present was the Rev. Claire Schenot Burkat, bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The ELCA offices are on the LTSP campus.
State Sen. LeAnna Washington recently announced she has partnered with Verizon HopeLine to collect old cell phones, which will be used to help survivors of domestic violence.
Phones donated at either of Washington’s district offices will be distributed through the Verizon HopeLine, which is a sponsor of this year’s 5th annual Walk to End Domestic Violence. The Verizon HopeLine repurposes and distributes donated cell phones to affected domestic violence survivors so that they may have an emergency line in times of need.
“Aside from helping the environment through recycling old cell phones, donating to the Verizon HopeLine is an easy way to help survivors of domestic violence start over again,” Washington said.
“Many of these brave individuals leave everything behind when they flea an abusive situation, and a cell phone can help them communicate with loved ones, employers and support facilities, allowing them to regain their independence.”
Donations will be accepted at both of Washington’s district offices, at 1168 Easton Road, Rosslyn and 1555-A Wadsworth Ave.Donors are asked to make sure that phones are in working order, disconnected from any existing wireless service, powered off, and any SIM cards are removed.
Batteries should be installed, nd any accessories should be placed in a bag along with the phone. Information on how to ensure a phone is ready for donation can be found on the Verizon HopeLine Web site.
“I can think of few better ways to help out someone in need than to give them a line of communication to help them get back on their feet,” Washington said. “I encourage everyone to donate their old phones and help out someone in need.”
State Sen. LeAnna Washington and others has marked October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Based on Washington’s experience as being a victim of domestic violence, every October, she plans a series of events and education geared towards raising the knowledge and helping the survivors to realize that they are not alone.
Hosted by Washington, the Fifth Annual Walk to End Domestic Violence, will be held Oct. 27. Washington, along with Women Against Abuse, Women in Transition, Lutheran Settlement House and Congreso de Latinos Unidos, will make the 5k walk all about raising domestic violence awareness.
“As a survivor of domestic abuse, I know the pain and sadness that victims feel, and the stigma that surrounds such horrible violence,” Washington said.
Approximately 91,000 Pennsylvanians are affected by domestic violence, and all of the state’s 62 shelters are operating at or near capacity.
Many shelters may have to limit the amount of victims to be covered, due to the lack of funding. This, unfortunately, will leave many victims homeless and this, in result, could raise the cases of domestic violence.
“It saddens me that to this day, domestic violence remains a taboo, and victims feel ashamed or responsible,” Washington said.
The walk will begin at 9 a.m., following kick-off ceremony at 10 a.m. After the ceremony, the walk will begin at 10:30 a.m.
“The idea [of this event] was to bring together women from different backgrounds as a sisterhood,” said Chief of Staff for the Fourth Senatorial District Sean McCray. “Senator Washington wanted to reach more people with the message, and the idea of an annual walk was pursued.”
The walk will begin at Martin Luther King Drive, near the stage area at the bike trail at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This will also be the ending point of the walk.
“The ceremony before the walk is used to inform and motivate the walkers,” McCray said. “Last year, Kathy Sledge performed ‘We Are Family.’ There are usually domestic violence survivors there to encourage people. We also have a balloon release, where purple and white balloons are given out to the crowd, and we release them to remember those who have suffered from domestic violence.
“With state funding of programs being inconsistent, Washington wanted to ensure the hotline is fully staffed and not solely dependent on government funding,” he said.