Aiming to shine a light on domestic violence, Hightstown Borough officials are encouraging residents to buy luminary kits to place along their driveways and sidewalks Dec. 7 in support of Womanspace’s annual Communities of Light project.
The Hightstown Borough Council adopted a resolution at its Nov. 2 meeting commending Womanspace “for its efforts to bring an end to the cycle of interpersonal violence imposed on women, children and men,” while urging residents to do their part to show support for the nonprofit group.
Communities of Light is the signature fundraiser for Womanspace, a nonprofit group based in Lawrence Township. The luminary kit, which contains six candles, six paper bags and sand, costs $10. A virtual luminary kit also is available at a cost of $10.
The luminary kits are available at ERA Central Realty on Main Street in Robbinsville; Keller Williams Realtors on Route 33 in Robbinsville; and at McCaffrey’s Markets on Princeton-Hightstown Road in West Windsor. A complete list of stores is available at www.womanspace.org.
The goal of Communities of Light, which is also taking place in towns across Mercer County Dec. 7, is to raise public awareness about domestic violence and the availability of counseling and other resources for victims through Womanspace.
Those resources include emergency housing in a confidential location for victims of domestic violence, as well as a Domestic Violence Victims Response Team, who meet with victims at municipal police departments upon request. The trained volunteers provide support and resources for victims.
Similar services are provided to victims of sexual assault through the Sexual Assault Support Services Advocates program, also staffed by trained volunteers. A volunteer may accompany a victim to the hospital, for example.
Womanspace also offers counseling for victims on a family, group or individual basis. The nonprofit group also helps to guide victims through the restraining order process – which keeps abusers away from victims – 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 came to the forefront.
As a result of those meetings, a proposal was developed to provide services to 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 group in 1977, along with co-signers Debora Metzger, Mary Ann Cannon, Ellen Belknap and Valorie Caffee.
Through its many programs since its founding, Womanspace has helped more than 81,000 women, 14,000 children and 6,000 men who have been victims of domestic violence or sexual assault.