Serving up compassion this month

Buying a meal at Raziel's this month could help save someone's life.

During May, Raziel's will donate five percent of every food purchase to the local Domestic Violence Safe Option Services.

"This is going to make a huge difference," said DVSOS Executive Director Sandie Sullivan. "Our grants are getting cut a little bit every year, so to provide the necessary services, we need more people like (Raziel's owner) Bonnie (Rowland) and the community of Vermillion."

DVSOS is a non-profit organization that provides free 24-hour confidential services to victims of domestic violence, stalking, dating violence and sexual assault.

"As a local business owner, this is one small way I can help a great cause like DVSOS," Rowland said. "Sandie is a good customer and I approached her about ways I could help out, and I thought this was a good way to give back to the community."

Rowland said she is hoping to hit $2,000 with the "May Day – May Day – May Day" promotion through just food sales.

So far, Raziel's has raised $557 for DVSOS.

"The first two weeks have been wonderful," Rowland said. "People have talked about it, and there was even a gentleman who wasn't a customer who wrote out a check for $20 to help out."

The extra funding comes at an important time for DVSOS.

The center serves Clay, Turner and Union counties.

In 2009, DVSOS helped out 626 adults and 143 children who suffered from interpersonal violence.

Those numbers are up from 2008 when the center assisted 433 adults and 124 children.

Sullivan said according to the statistics, one out of every four women experience some sort of form of domestic violence.

She added that domestic violence incidents are on the rise for several reasons, with a major factor being the struggling economy

"The economic situation plays a role because of the stress, and it may be a barrier because if the person who is getting abused has to wonder where they will go and what they will do," Sullivan said. "All the things that might have been provided for them were from the abuser."

Another reason the numbers are up might be because more people are coming forward about domestic violence instead of not telling anyone.

Sullivan said people who are being abused shouldn't be afraid to come forward and ask the center for help.

"They feel like there is no way out, and if they leave, they may think something drastic will happen to them and their family members," Sullivan said. "Never be afraid to ask for help in that situation."

Sullivan added people are more aware the center can help since DVSOS has launched a public awareness campaign.

"They can call us even if they need someone to talk to or if they help getting away in the middle of the night," she said. "Sometimes the person doesn't know if they are being abused, but we can help them and identify how series their situation may be."

Rowland knows how hard it is to get away from domestic violence after experiencing it at an earlier age.

"When I was younger, I decided to run away and I made some bad choices," she said. "I would call home and get away, but I would just repeat the process."

Rowland said she couldn't break out of the cycle until her son got involved.

"It's a vicious cycle until you get your self-esteem," she said. "Once my son got to see it, I packed up and disappeared."

Since then, Rowland has had no contact with that man.
She said her personal experience helped her in the decision to donate to DVSOS.

"This way people have some place to call when things go bad," she said. "Plus when it happens, they can get a motel room to find time to think about it and are able to get clothes and diapers for their kids."

Sullivan said she  and the DVOS board of directors are very grateful for the support from Rowland and the community of Vermillion.

"I can't say thank you enough to all of them," she said. "I know the families that receive the assistance are very grateful."

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