Soft glow of purple kicks off annual campaign in Covington
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
October 5, 2012 · Updated 10:02 AM
Purple Light Nights in Covington and beyond has begun.
Victoria Throm, founder of the Covington Domestic Violence Task Force, along with a number of community organizations as well as members of Kentlake High School’s drama department helped celebrate the start of the annual campaign Sept. 29 with a tree lighting kick off event.
It is part of National Domestic Violence Awareness month with the color purple serving as a color used to associate education and awareness on the issue. The idea is to get purple light bulbs on every porch or strings of purple lights on trees throughout the city.
When Throm first started the campaign in 2007 the idea was to honor victims who had died as a result of domestic violence as well as to support survivors and give hope to those still living in domestic violence.
Now the campaign has spread to 28 states as well as provinces in Canada.
This year three Covington businesses — Kid to Kid, Valley Vehicle Licensing and Washington Workwear — have offered a new feature to the campaign. Patrons can buy a paper purple light bulb for a dollar that they can write on before the business posts it on a window or wall for all to see.
At the tree lighting this year, Kentlake drama students performed scenes related to teen dating violence. The previous two years Kentwood students had performed.
Pam Cressey, Kentlake’s drama director, wrote in an email that Throm reached out to her to get Kentlake involved after a student suggested to Throm that they would be interested in helping out.
“Our drama club wants to find new ways to serve the community and promote our fabulous Kentlake Drama program,” Cressey wrote. “We are planning on doing a similarly themed assembly in October on dating violence and other teen issues related to abusive relationships.”
So, it was great timing and a great fit.
Plus, Cressey said, it is another opportunity for her students to stretch as actors as well as learn about the importance of service.
“I hope my students will be a small part in creating awareness of the where and how to get professional help if they find themselves in unhealthy relationships,” Cressey wrote. “We all need to be more involved in the education and prevention of teen violence. My biggest hope is that they will hopefully also learn through this process the great joy in doing something for others.”
For Throm, she wants to focus more on prevention and the critical piece to stopping the cycle is to start educating young people, so partnerships with the Kentlake Drama Club as well as Kent-based Project (U)th which has members from Covington are key.
“Our emphasis needs to be on prevention,” Throm said. “We’ve partnered with Project (U)th. It’s a continuation of our bathroom flier project. They’ve designed something postcard sized for schools. It’s got one of those QR codes rather than tear off numbers and it takes them to loveisrespect.org.”
In bathroom stalls around Covington there are fliers with tear off numbers for organizations around Puget Sound which help people who feel threatened in their intimate relationships.
Throm hopes the postcard-sized fliers Project (U)th is working on will get into all of the high schools in this area where kids will be able to scan the QR codes with their smartphones and go to the website, loveisrespect.org, to get information about what healthy dating relationships look like for teens.
“We believe that there are a lot of girls and boys that don’t understand healthy relationships, so they don’t see the red flags that indicate unhealthy behavior,” Throm said. “There are steps they need to learn. And with the popularity of texting (which) allows for controlling … a hundred texts a day like ‘Where are you?’ ‘What are you doing?’ Who are you with?’ And it certainly works both ways.”
Additionally, Keith Beach, a Covington resident who founded The Jennifer Beach Foundation which provides services and advocacy for domestic violence victims, has been working to bring the ‘In Their Shoes’ teen dating violence awareness program to area schools.
Beyond that, Throm said, there has been a growing number of businesses sponsoring trees which have been strung with purple lights with 26 Covington businesses involved this year.
“We have had great sponsorship with the street tree campaign,” Throm said. “We light them all throughout our loop here (at City Hall) and Kent-Kangley Road. It’s amazing.”
Throm said she has also been thankful for the youth group at St. John the Baptist Church, which has done two fundraisers for the Covington DVTF, which raised more than $4,000. More than that, Throm said, it gave her the opportunity to talk to the teens in the group and help raise awareness with them about what to look for in relationships as well as where to go for help if something seems wrong.
Purple light bulbs or strings of lights can be purchased at City Hall or Washington Workwear with proceeds going to the Covington Domestic Violence Task Force.
For more information about the Purple Light Nights campaign log on to www.purplelightnights.org.
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.