Dance for YWCA to make moves for peace.
WORCESTER - "Friday night and the lights are low ... looking out for a place to go..." Are you? The Dancing Queens have just the answer: the second annual Dance for Peace dance-a-thon from 6 p.m. to midnight Sept. 30 at the Leominster Elks, 134 North Main St., Leominster.
The dance floor will be hopping with Crystal Entertainment of Townsend providing the tunes for the YWCA Central Massachusetts' Battered Women's Resources fundraiser.
Besides Lunenburg's Dancing Queens, the Mount Wachusett Community College Dance Crew, the Clinton Savings Bank Sashayers, the Dancing Divas and Twinkle Toe and Happy Feet teams from Fitchburg and Leominster will be bopping to the music. Teams from Fitchburg State University, Clark University, Holden, Princeton, Sterling and Westminster also plan on attending.
The Dancing Queens will have more than 15 members on their team. Jean Wnuk thinks it is a "great cause. It could be any of us that could be in that situation, and I think that one should show a good example for our children, to teach them to do things for other people, as well as educating them about the violence that can occur in any family."
Salsa Passion of Fitchburg will perform the merengue and teach anyone and everyone how to step and slide to the Caribbean dance style. Leominster's Dance2Swing will also demonstrate basic dance steps. Rock 'n' roll your thing? Rock 'n' rollers will show you the latest and greatest.
If you are not a dancer, there will be food, a cash bar, prizes and raffles.
"This is a unique and innovative fundraiser bringing people together for a fun evening, to celebrate a united front to address domestic violence," said Ginger Navickas, director of domestic violence services for the YWCA of Central Massachusetts and manager of the Battered Women's Resources program.
For more than 30 years, the Battered Women's Resources program has provided emergency shelter, court advocacy, crisis intervention, community education and counseling, all free to families in 33 North Central Massachusetts cities and towns.
"We also want to raise awareness in the region about domestic violence and address the needs of its victims. We have a program that is designed to respond to families impacted by domestic violence, providing shelter, nonresidential services, counseling, outreach and support groups," Ms. Navickas said.
The program includes SAFE PLAN, with advocates in the Leominster, Fitchburg, Clinton, Ayer, and Gardner District courts, assisting people with restraining orders and providing safety plans and referrals. Community educations programs begin with Head Start through grammar, middle and high school to provide violence-prevention skills, change attitudes, provide resource information and encourage young people to talk to a trusted adult when in fear of being harmed.
A $90 check can buy a new set of bedding for one shelter bed, $100 provides a woman with advocacy and support in pursuing a restraining order, $500 provides three nights of emergency shelter for a woman whose life has been threatened by an abusive partner, and $10,000 would cover the annual utility costs of Aralia Shelter, a confidential emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children.
More than 2,000 people, including children, are served by Battered Women's Resources each year.
"This is a great opportunity for people to come out and support our program and have a lot of fun at the same time. We need this kind of enthusiastic support for the work that needs to be done," said Ms. Navickas.
Admission is $20 and is tax-deductible. For more information, call (508) 791-3181 or visit www.ywcacentralmass.org.
A dancer gets into the spirit of the occasion at last year's YWCA Dance for Peace at the Leominster Elks.