FLORENCE, S.C. — Over 300 lunches were sold for the Naomi Project’s 16th annual luncheon to spread awareness of domestic abuse and its lingering effects.
All of the proceeds from the luncheon go toward keeping the Naomi Project open and helping homeless women in transitional shelters receive assistance. Plates were either delivered or picked up and were $10 each.
The founder of the Naomi Project, Joyce Gillespie Ford, said the community’s support of the organization means everything.
“Everything at the Naomi Project is a donation,” Ford said. “The donations come from the community and without them it isn’t possible to do what we do.”
The annual luncheon helps women at the shelter get whatever resources they need to be successful once they decide to start a new life away from an abuser. Ford said the Naomi Project is vital to the Florence community and cited that two women died in the past year from domestic abuse in the area and it should not be taken lightly.
Ford said the increase of domestic abuse is not new, but is simply being told more.
“What is happening isn’t new,” Ford said. “We are just being told more and being exposed to the harsh realities of domestic abuse. We have had two women die in the last year and it is a sad thing and we need to get the word out about it and let people know there is help.”
South Carolina is ranked number 6 in the nation under domestic homicide and the Naomi Project wants to get participants involved so people can rally and decrease the number of women who are killed in domestic abuse situations.
At the root of all domestic abuse situations is power and control, Ford said.
“It’s not so much about the sexual part or the financial part,” Ford said. “It boils down to power and control. It’s about someone who doesn’t have power and control trying to take someone else’s control so they can feel powerful.”
Rozlyn Ford, who is a volunteer with the Naomi Project, said the annual luncheon serves to fight back against domestic abuse.
“We are showing support for the women and children who have gone through this,” Ford said. “We have a high number of people who are dealing with this in silence and we need as many transitional homes for these women as possible.”
Ford said the transitional homes were so important because they don’t want women to be reliant upon their abuser for housing. If the woman decides to leave and be independent, the Naomi Project wants to be of assistance in helping her regain her independence.
“We want these women to have other options,” Ford said.
Another volunteer at the luncheon, L.B. Smalls, who pastors a church at Bennettsville, said supporting the mission of the Naomi Project as a man was important because men are supposed to love, protect, and honor their women.
Smalls said when a woman is abused by a man it is a deadly and dangerous thing.
“It takes a mighty sorry man to abuse a woman,” Smalls said. “If he has to take out his strength on a woman he is not a man at all.”
Janet Brand, who was there to pick up several lunches, said she has been supporting the Naomi Project for 10 years.
“I went and visited the homes years ago and I was impressed with the vision to help battered women,” Brand said. “Domestic abuse is an issue that won’t ever go away, but we will still fight to save who we can.”
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