Come party with us for a purpose

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Natchez loves a party, everybody agrees. Down winds, straight line winds, hail, sleet or rain may come but in Natchez a party will proceed.

This Saturday everyone is invited to a Party with a Purpose! A good time will be had from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the recently renovated King’s Daughters Home, the residence of Kenny and Renee Cavin, 32 Cemetery Road in Natchez.

The food and drink, music and good company will make for a wonderful time as the sun drops behind the horizon exploding into magical colors of gold, orange and red reflecting on the mighty waters of the Mississippi River.

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The purpose for the party is to raise money for the award winning Guardian Shelter, which offers protection and services to women and children escaping domestic violence.

Just as it is certain that the Mississippi River flows past our door to Gulf of Mexico, domestic violence will occur. The statistics are frightening! Every 15 seconds a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend.

Thirty percent of all female homicide victims are killed by a partner or former partner. One women in four will be physically assaulted by her partner or ex-partner. Eighty percent of such cases are witnessed by children, seldom acknowledged as the terrifying child abuse that it is.

Violence cycles from one generation to the next, sometimes unknowingly. How will it stop? First, we must recognize it as a problem. Silence must stop. Shame must stop. We as a community must recognize that we can help. To start, we can to provide a safe haven. The Guardian Shelter is that safe haven, and it needs our help.

In the first grant awarded in 1994 to the City of Natchez for more than a million dollars, the plight of the women needing this help was described as a woman who is terrified, isolated, desperate and afraid but also courageous. She could be anyone of any age, race, religion, ethnic or socioeconomic standing in the community.

Escaping with no money, she frequently flees to a shelter with only the clothes on her back. She full of conflicting emotions because she is facing a baffling, cunning and powerful opponent, who is trying to cause her physical, emotional, financial and legal abuse.

Unlike the victim of street crime, this women’s opponent is someone she has been intimately close to — her husband, ex-husband, boyfriend or ex-boyfriend. With the shattering of her illusions, she steps out for help and demonstrates her strength and will to live. The Guardian Shelter needs our support to continue to be there, helping the women in the surrounding 11 counties of southwest Mississippi and Concordia Parish. Since 1994 it has served of 5,000 individuals.

It must be understood that a woman’s risk of being battered has little to do with her and everything to do with whom she marries or dates.

This shelter, an arm of Catholic Charities, Inc., supports these women and children through a continuum of care. Historically, it is fitting that Mississippi offer this care as it was in this state in 1824 that the Mississippi Supreme Court first cited the English Common law that sanctioned wife beating by the so-called “Rule of Thumb.” This law stated that a man could physically chastise his wife as long as the stick he used was no wider than his thumb. It is also fitting that Natchez, the center of the Old South, operate this shelter. While the issue of slavery caused a Civil War, little attention in 1834 was given to a wife who was beaten to death on a plantation here. Silence prevailed. Today we can show our outrage by standing united against the crime of wife-beating.

You can show your support by buying a ticket for this Party with a Purpose for Saturday. Tickets cost $100. One ticket will admit two people for an evening of cocktails and entertainment and food by Esther Carpenter.

Tickets will be entered into the nightly drawing for the $5,000 Grand Prize Draw-Down, and no presence is required to win. Individuals may pool their money, purchase one ticket, designate two individuals to attend and split your winnings!

For more information please contact Donna Miller, program director at 601-442-0142 or Make checks out to Catholic Charities for the Guardian Shelter. Checks can be mailed or delivered to Catholic Charities, 109 S. Union St., Natchez, MS 39120. Tickets can also be purchased at Concordia Bank or its branches. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

Mary Jane Gaudet is a friend of the Guardian Shelter.