HOPEWELL: Communities of Light Day declared to raise domestic violence awareness

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Lea Kahn, Staff Writer
Aiming to shine a light on domestic violence while also calling attention to Womanspace and its efforts to help victims, Hopewell Township Committee has declared Dec. 4 as Communities of Light Day.
According to a resolution in support of Communities of Light, Mayor Kevin Kuchinski and Township Committee urged residents to wait until dark to line their driveways and sidewalks with luminaries – candles inside paper bags.
“Hopewell Township applauds the efforts of Womanspace to bring an end to the cycle of interpersonal violence imposed on women, children and men,” according to the resolution, which was adopted at the committee’s Nov. 27 meeting.
Each luminary kit contains six candles and can be purchased at locations around Mercer County – including the Pennington Quality Market on Route 31 and the Amber Spa at 16 S. Main Street in Pennington. The cost is $10.
The money generated by the sale of the “Communities of Light” luminary kits will be used to fund vital services for the victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, the resolution said.
Among the services offered are the Domestic Violence Victim Response Team, which meets with victims at municipal police departments upon request. The trained volunteers provide immediate support and resources for the victims.
Similar services are provided to victims of sexual assault through the Sexual Assault Support Advocates program, also staffed by trained volunteers. They may accompany the victim to the hospital.
Womanspace offers counseling for victims on an individual, family or group basis. The nonprofit group also helps to guide the victims through the restraining order process in Mercer County Family Court.
Womanspace has its roots in the Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women, which was created in 1976. During the initial public meetings, the issue of domestic violence quickly rose to the forefront, according to the organization’s website.
As a result of those meetings, a proposal was developed to provide services for women in crisis. The effort was spearheaded by the late Barbara Boggs Sigmund, who was serving on the Mercer County Board of Chosen Freeholders. She later became the mayor of the former Princeton Borough.
Sigmund – who is considered to be the founder of Womanspace – signed the original certificate of incorporation for the nonprofit group in 1977, along with signers Deborah Metzger, Mary Ann Cannon, Ellen Belknap and Valorie Caffee.