Songs echoed from speakers throughout Martin Square in downtown Homewood as participants danced to the beat at Anew’s third annual “Dancing Away Domestic Violence” fundraiser on June 10.
The event is designed to promote Anew’s services to the community in a fun, family-friendly environment.
“This is one of the ways we wanted to say: ‘Let’s celebrate this work instead of looking at it as something that some people think of as depressing,’” Anew Director Jennifer Gabrenya said. “So we’re really trying to reframe what we do as uplifting the community.”
This year’s proceeds benefited Anew and its mission to bring awareness to domestic violence in the community. There were many community sponsors of the fundraiser including Serendipity Yoga who raffled off a yoga basket for participants.
Anew focuses on serving those who’ve encountered domestic violence along with those who have done harm of domestic violence, and working with the community to prevent domestic violence.
“A lot of people look at our agency as a sad place, but [to] those of us that work in the agency it’s a very hopeful place,” Garbrenya said. “We see a lot of transformation happen, and our vision is to see a world without abuse.”
For three hours, attendees enjoyed participating in jazzercise, line dancing, Zumba and cardio drumming. They danced to a list of songs including Iggy Azalea’s “Trouble” and Beyoncé’s “Cuff It.”
Jazzercise was a new addition to this year’s fundraiser. Rachel Forsythe, Anew’s development coordinator, helped plan the fundraiser and was excited to add jazzercise as a fourth program.
“This is just a good reflection on like taking care of your body, being active and having the stress relief of what dancing can give,” Forsythe said.
Deb Klir, an associate instructor at Jazzercise Frankfort, has been an instructor for 13 years and participated in this year’s fundraiser for its first year including jazzercise.
“There was no question about whether we were going to do it at all… it’s a very good cause,” Klir said. “Everybody needs to be aware that [domestic violence] is going on. It’s really nice that (there event) is done in such a wide-open spot like this.”
About 125 participants attended in support of Anew. Many, dressed in purple, valued the importance of spreading awareness about domestic violence.
First-time participant Jacqueline Bowens learned about the fundraiser through her church and was excited to be involved.
“I just heard the music, I heard the directions and I saw the crowd and the enthusiasm and I remembered some of my Zumba days, so I just said ‘I’m gonna have fun and enjoy this opportunity,’” Bowens said.
Gabrenya hopes the fundraiser helps the community to become more aware of domestic violence and Anew.
“I hope it helps them remember Anew because they had fun here with us and that they take the materials that they have and if they ever happen to be in a place in their own lives or know someone that ends up experiencing abuse, they can think of us,” Gabrenya said. “That’s how you change lives.”