This past weekend, I got the opportunity to volunteer down at Oak Street Beach to help set up for the annual event, Light up the Lakefront! This year, the event celebrated its 21st anniversary. The event is hosted by Between Friends, a Chicago nonprofit organization that aids in crisis intervention, as their mission is to “break the cycle of domestic violence and build a community free of abuse.” October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so they hold this event in honor of any domestic violence victim, survivor, family, friends… anyone really; the event is open to the public.
As a volunteer, I helped fill brown paper bags with sand and candles in order to make luminaria. The event is a candlelight vigil and begins when the sun goes down. Hundreds of people gather around the circle, reflect together and meditate. There are also a few speakers that bravely share their stories.
While I was working on setting up, one of the ladies that works with Between Friends approached me and my friends and asked us if we wanted to dedicate a luminaria to anyone we may know that has been a victim of domestic abuse. One of my friends came to mind right away! I thought of my new friend that I only met a few months ago— Christy. You may know Christy as your friend, classmate, sorority sister, family member, teammate, what have you, but I know her as the strong young woman that she is. I am lucky enough to work with Christy through HerCampus and I am so glad I was able to meet her and hear her story! Having been in an abusive relationship, Christy first wrote an anonymous interview for our chapter of HerCampus, disclosing her story under a fake name. After seeing all the praise and support for the article, Christy revealed herself as the victim in an abusive relationship that occurred a few years ago. I am so proud of Christy for confidently speaking up about her struggle, and it is great to see her raising awareness for such an amazing cause. I decided to write down Christy’s name down on a little piece of purple paper and attach it to one of the luminaries in her honor. Soon after, I was able to meet up with her at the vigil and show her the candle so she could get a picture with it. I am so glad I was able to give my time as a volunteer, while also doing something special for a friend of mine!
If you haven’t read Christy’s fearless story, I highly encourage you to do so! Read it here: http://www.hercampus.com/school/luc/whats-it-being-abusive-relationship