BREVARD COUNTY — October represents more than just a time for dressing in costumes and giving out treats as organizations across the U.S. aim to educate the public for “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”
In reality, what’s actually scary is the fact that hundreds of women have to seek help to escape the nightmare world they are living in, or else they may die trying.
Serene Harbor Inc., a domestic violence center, is a local nonprofit organization that has been serving the community with its free services since 1992. In the fiscal year of 2018-19, Serene Harbor has received 654 hotline calls, assisted 1,493 individuals and spent 2,656 hours providing counseling to those in need.
Each October, the nonprofit hosts a fundraiser to benefit the many programs it offers to assist individuals seeking a better life.
This year, the organization has planned one of its biggest events yet. Replacing the popular “Purses with a Purpose” luncheon is Serene Harbor’s inaugural “Casino Night” scheduled for Oct. 11.
“We were looking to move something toward the evening and have some games and a little more fun,” said Beverly DeMeyer, director of marketing and development at Serene Harbor.
“We’ve been doing Purses with a Purpose for 13 years,” Mrs. DeMeyer added. “We will go back to it, but we wanted to change it up this year and offer something different.”
The Casino Night, which has already sold out of tickets, will feature a similar format to the luncheon with a three-course meal, a speech by Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey, and a keynote address by a guest speaker who is a domestic violence survivor.
The fun and games will shortly follow with slot machines, Texas Hold ’Em, Blackjack, roulette, craps, a photo booth, silent auction, open bar and more.
Chips won by participants will be converted to raffle tickets to be used toward six amazing prize packages, which includes a “Big Green Egg” package, “Family ‘Unplugged’” package, “Kayaking for two” package, “Vegas Vacation” package, “Florida Fun” package and a “Holiday House Party” package.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will directly benefit Serene Harbor’s many programs, which include case management, legal advocacy, safety planning, relocation assistance, community education, professional training, support groups, prevention programs and children’s programs.
The event will also honor a recipient with the Dotti Gatti Philanthropic Legacy Award. Ms. Gatti was one of Serene Harbor’s longest supporters who passed away a few years ago, and Serene Harbor opted to keep her memory alive with this presentation.
Mrs. DeMeyer wanted to thank Serene Harbor’s board and committee members for their help in creating this event.
Serene Harbor offers emergency shelter for women, their children and their pets, in addition to providing an emergency 24-hour hotline.
Statistics for Serene Harbor show that within the fiscal year of 2018-19, the nonprofit has provided shelter nights to 5,515 individuals to which the average length of stay was 28 days.
Serene Harbor also provided 570 individual safety plans, sheltered 10 pets, and assisted 164 individuals by the injunction for protection attorney (23 of those served were men).
“Something we hear a lot in the community is victims do go back, and there’s a multitude of reasons as to why a victim will choose to go back to their abuser,” Mrs. DeMeyer said.
“Typically the abuser controls the finances of the home,” she continued. “Typically, [the victim] is not working so they rely on housing, food and shelter for their children and themselves. So, there may be many times where our residents goes back to the abuser, and we inform them that we support whatever they want to do, and we’re always going to be here when they need us again.
“We try to let people know you should never make a survivor feel guilty for going back because it will just hinder them from wanting to reach out and get help again,” Mrs. DeMeyer said.
Those seeking assistance can reach out to Serene Harbor’s confidential hotline services by calling (321) 726-8282.
For more information about Serene Harbor, visit www.sereneharbor.org.