Photo: David Pfaff, Irving Cares CEO Teddie Story, and Irving council member Kyle Taylor attend a luncheon to raise money for Brighter Tomorrows. /Photo by Ariel Graham
An afternoon of auctions and awareness benefited domestic violence victims during the Chocolate and Chic luncheon hosted on Wednesday, March 29.
The 21st annual luncheon, held at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, raised funds for Brighter Tomorrows, an organization that provides care and emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The event originally began as a fashion show, but this year over 200 items were bid upon during the silent auction, along with several big-ticket items in the live auction, including a day of SWAT training and a day of sniper training with local police.
Among their 24-hour crisis hotline and women’s shelters in Grand Prairie and Irving, Brighter Tomorrows operates transitional housing, a counseling center in Irving, and thrift stores in both Grand Prairie and DeSoto.
“We really are the “connect the dots” kind of agency,” Diana Franzetti, CEO of Brighter Tomorrows, said. “We can connect our clients, whether they’re in the shelter or transitional housing, with legal proceedings, medical, any of the entitlement or social benefits that they might need, and especially finding permanent safe housing and getting the kids enrolled in school. We help them with all of that and give them all of those resources, so they can become independent and have a permanent, safe living environment.”
Ronnie Low, the luncheon’s keynote speaker, shared his own story of domestic violence, parental abuse, and the tragic death of his sister at the hands of an abusive husband.
“It happened in my home,” Low said. “It happens in homes in your community. I tried being very, very good. I tried being very, very bad. It made no difference, because I finally realized, it’s not about me.
“It’s not about who I am or what I did or what I didn’t do. It was about him, and it was about who he was, and it was about the way he viewed things, and I could not change any of those things,” he said.
The event serves as a means to raise not only funds, but also awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault. Tina Strand, president of Brighter Tomorrows, said violence against women is becoming more and more commonplace, and that women need to know where to turn for help.
“We’re hearing more and more about domestic violence,” Strand said. “It’s more prevalent than ever; people are talking about it more. I think it’s important for women and men to know that there are resources out there that can help them, because the statistics show that a woman will leave [a relationship] seven times before staying gone for good. They need to know that every time they go back, the violence gets worse, and they need to know that there are alternatives and a healthier way of living.”
“Today, over one-third of all women experience violence against them by an intimate partner, and we need to do something about it,” said Dr. Beverly Black, a professor at University of Texas at Arlington and member of the Board of Directors for Brighter Tomorrows. “A lot of people don’t understand violence against women. They don’t understand family violence. It’s important for people to support efforts to fund not only the interventions to help women that have experienced it, but also the prevention so that we don’t have to have events like this in the future.”
CEO Diana Franzetti also stressed the importance of awareness, especially for the victims themselves.
“We believe that any domestic violence victims who are out there, as long as they know there’s help, they very much have an advantage to taking care of themselves and their children,” Franzetti said. “But we’ve found that the people who don’t know about the help they can get, whether it’s from Brighter Tomorrows or any other domestic violence agency, are at very high risk of terrible injury or possibly even death if they can’t get away from their abuser.”
Thanks to events like Chocolate and Chic, organizations like Brighter Tomorrows receive not just the funding they need, but the awareness that makes them invaluable to victims of violence.
“It’s just a wonderful way to gather community support and continue to raise awareness of what we need to do to help these victims who have turned into survivors,” Franzetti said.