On average, approximately 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Over the course of one year, this adds up to more than 10 million men and women.
With these statistics being at an incredibly high percentage for not only the entire U.S., but right here in Erie as well, students and faculty at Mercyhurst are working together with an organization called SafeNet to take a stand.
According to the organization’s website, “SafeNet is a non-profit organization, providing free confidential services including counseling, legal advocacy, education and shelter victims of domestic violence.” It is Erie’s only accredited domestic violence agency.
Last year, the Forensics Science club on campus began working hand in hand with the organization. Kathi Staaf, the club’s adviser and administrative assistant of the Applied Forensics Science department, has played a major role in getting the partnership started.
“I asked the club to look for a service organization that we could make a connection with and provide continuing assistance to in the future,” said Staaf. “Suggestions were brought up at the club meeting, and we decided on SafeNet.”
After the partnership began last year, it was a success, and the club’s volunteering has continued into the current school year with no end in sight.
“We wanted to assist an organization that was related to forensics in some way and in the course of our work in the forensics field, we regularly see victims of domestic violence. So SafeNet seemed like the fit for us.” Staaf said.
SafeNet puts on multiple fundraisers throughout the year, and Mercyhurst provides the volunteers to help make them possible. Some of the events include the Scrabble Tournament, the Boo Run/Walk 5K at Presque Isle and the most recent event, the Halloween Haunt Spook-tacular Party for kids.
Chianne Kline, a sophomore Sports Medicine major, has participated in many events as a member of the Forensics club. Most recently, she participated in the Boo Run/Walk.
“Volunteering with SafeNet is a truly rewarding experience, and being able to participate in the 5K was just one of the great events,” said Kline. “It spread awareness about SafeNet and what it does, which is incredibly important, because domestic violence is truly a major issue that needs to be addressed.”
Volunteering not only impacts the organizations, but it affects the students as well.
“Volunteering with this great program has given me a new appreciation for helping others, and I look forward to continuing volunteering at many events in the future,” Kline said.
The club members aim to continue to build their relationship with SafeNet, and they hope to participate in more of their events, not just the fundraising efforts.
“They offer a domestic violence prevention seminar and fun events for SafeNet clients and the Erie community all throughout the year,” said Staaf. “All of the activities present opportunities to connect with Erie residents and provide help to a worthy organization.”