Hundreds of men, women and children – and even a canine or two – gathered at Bunker Hills Regional Park Sept. 29. Together they strolled underneath the clear blue sky, wandering through blaze orange and crimson red-crowned maples and taking steps to end domestic and sexual violence.
They were on a mission – a mission to raise awareness, raise funds and raise hope for victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The mission commander is Alexandra House, and the event was the eighth annual Walk for Hope.
“We are here to celebrate hope. To show people that there is a way out,” said Jennifer Rosand who, as a 12-year old girl in 1982, fled to Alexandra House with her mother to escape the abuse they endured at home.
“My hope is that everyone who leaves Alexandra House has hope and the ability to make a positive change in their lives,” Rosand said and gave thanks for the protection and advocacy provided at Alexandra House.
“My experience at Alexandra House helped me learn how to make big changes by taking small steps,” Rosand said.
Others at the Walk for Hope walked in memory of loved ones whose abusers took their lives.
Chris Grew of Big Lake and his sister formed a team of nearly three dozen people who walked in memory of their mother, Kim Grew, who died one year ago at the hands of an abusive man.
“It’s too late for her, but maybe this walk will get others some help,” said Grew as he pulled his two little boys and one of their little friends in a wagon for the two-mile walk.
Jeanine Christenson of Blaine and her daughter Lauren walked in memory of Jeanine’s co-worker and dear friend Pam Taschuk who was killed October 2009.
Christenson and her co-workers formed a Walk for Hope team and have been “taking steps to end domestic and sexual violence” for the four years now.
“We’ve got to get this to stop,” Christenson said. “Maybe the fact that more and more people come out for this walk means more people are aware – and that’s good. But if it means there are more victims… I hope that’s not the reason,” she said.
This year, some 700 people took part in Walk for Hope activities and raised more than $40,000 to support Alexandra House programs and services.
“We all continue to mourn but we also continue to honor and uphold the survivors of domestic and sexual abuse,” said Connie Moore, executive director at Alexandra House.
“The mission of Alexandra House is to empower victims of domestic and sexual violence, and inspire social change, through education, advocacy and support,” said Amanda Vickstrom, development and communications director. “This walk can go a long way to help make that happen even more.”
To learn more about Alexandra House, visit www.alexandrahouse.org or call 763-780-2332.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org