PHOTO: Barb and Doug Veit present grants to Support With Reach
Having a community dialogue to reduce the impact and harm of sexual violence
These are such uncertain times. Many in our community, isolated at home, and now with the news of protesting and rioting are frightened. To victims of sexual violence, this can be debilitating. Support Within Reach is here to help reduce the impact and harm of sexual violence in the community.
Start By Believing Program
Start By Believing is a global public awareness campaign that Support Within Reach implemented in Itasca County to help change the ways in which our communities respond to victims of sexual violence.
“We are excited about the Start By Believing campaign that can help us to better understand and support victims of sexual assault, and create a local culture that does not tolerate sexual violence,” says Sarah Copeland, Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation Interim Director of Operations.
As few as one in five victims report their sexual assaults, so they often don't get the help they need. Without a report, law enforcement misses opportunities to identify perpetrators in their community, repeat offenders go undetected, and more people are victimized. Studies have shown that victims of sexually violent crimes are much more likely to report their assaults and seek medical attention (to collect evidence/rape kits) if the first person they disclose to believes and supports them.
Through Support Within Reach's Start By Believing Campaign, Itasca County residents can learn that survivor's need to be believed, their stories need to be heard, and supporting a culture where harm is allowed to occur is not acceptable.
Support Within Reach has tools to provide support so people can connect friends or family members to the community resources they need to heal from trauma. The overall goal of the Start By Believing campaign is to help students, faculty, business leaders, criminal justice system professionals, agency partners, civic leaders, faith communities and area residents recognize the need to stop blaming victims of sexual assault, break the silence of this violence, and hold offenders accountable for their actions.
The multi-layered prevention education campaign will be implemented over the course of three years. Phase I of the Start By Believing campaign was announced at Itasca Community College during new student orientation presentations in August of 2019.
Through classroom discussions and campus organization meetings, student volunteers will be identified and recruited to organize a series of Start By Believing initiatives including: campus pledge drives; social media messaging; “What Were You Wearing?” survivor clothing art exhibit; and a "Getting REEL about Sexual Violence” film series event. The campaign will serve as an effective tool for recruiting new agency volunteers, building new relationships with faculty and administrators, and promoting unique community education events.
Consider Your Giving
Support for the Start By Believing Program is funded by the Streufert Peace and Safety Fund and the Peace and Progress Fund at the Community Foundation. The Streufert Peace and Safety Fund was started in 1996 as a memorial for Carin Streufert to invest in programs that teach people, especially youth, to respond in nonviolent ways. Due to the power of endowments, the Streufert Peace and Safety Fund has provided almost $30,000 in grants. This is a wonderful legacy for Carin.
The Peace and Progress Fund is a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation. As you have seen before, individual donors can make a significant difference in our local community. Anyone can give to any fund at the Community Foundation. Consider your giving. Are you supporting your values? Are you supporting locally? Giving locally provides a direct impact that you can see today.
Consider giving to funds that promote peace and peaceful resolution.
The Grand Rapids Area Community Foundation has been connecting donors’ charitable intentions to community needs for over 25 years to make our Greater Itasca Area – and the world – a better place to live. We invite you to become part of the good work we do, and to include us in the conversation with your financial or estate planner to answer the question “What good do you want your money to do?” For more information, visit our website at www.gracf.org or schedule a visit by calling (218) 999-9100.