Marshalls, Safe Horizon and Unifem (United Nations Development Fund for Women) teamed up to help raise awareness about the silent epidemic, Domestic Violence. It was a union meant to be as one of the coordinators from a travelling massage company (forgive me for not getting the name) told me yesterday. He explained that they had been touring the United States, marketing their massage chairs, giving foot massages to passerby’s and New York City happened to be their next stop, the same day Marshalls Shoes, Safe Horizon and Unifem were going to set up an outdoor Domestic Abuse educational program in Union Square. The four organizations decided to join forces to present a Shoelicious Spectacular of pampering, cat walk artistry and of course chocolates.
I received an email message from Marshalls (my good friend) informing me of this upcoming event. Of course I said I’ll be there. Instructions: If I donated a pair of lightly worn shoes, an artist will take them and create a tree sculpture to be displayed in Union Square after which it would go to Domestic Abuse Survivors in need. Cool! If the cause itself wasn’t stimulating enough to attend, Marshall’s evoked the primal feminine hunger for shoes and more shoes by underlining that the first 100 persons to arrive by 12:00pm and donate, would receive a free pair of fall shoes of their choice. So of course, I arrived at 10:45am. I was told I had to wait until 12pm so I decided to watch them set up the massage chairs, the fantastical displays of “edible shoes”, red shoe cars, the two catwalks and the paparazzi stage for when actress, Leighton Meester from gossip girl would make her appearance. Everything was decked out in the signature purple, symbolizing Domestic Violence Awareness. I took pictures and milled around the park a little while waiting. Luckily, I happened to spot a host of East Indians in their traditional garb gathered around a new statue in the square. I took a closer look and apparently, a brand new statue of Gandhi was being dedicated. He is immortalized wearing his glasses and carrying his trademark staff. Garlands upon garlands of vibrant flowers of red, yellow and white were placed around his neck and outstretched arm. Of course I had to take pictures of the event and the news crews surrounding it. I thought this fit in so well with the Domestic Violence affair and the overall theme of Peace.
My worst nightmare-my batteries for my camera ran out so I had to hunt for more. I breathed a sigh of relief when I found a record store down the street. I bought four beautiful looking AA batteries but when I put them in my camera and kept flipping them, I realized that they were rechargeable batteries that needed to be charged before use. I almost flipped especially when I saw that a line was forming without me at 11:30am. I set out on another expedition, this time going further away in the opposite direction. I found a Radio Shack and this time I made sure that these batteries could be used now and even better, they were $10 cheaper. Alright, so now I was ready. I trekked back three blocks and there were only 6 ladies on the line, so I gently slipped to the back, my heart pounding while I inserted my brand new batteries. Volunteers took sizes and gave everyone on the line purple and white T-shirts that read, ‘Today I Took a Stand Against Domestic Violence 10/2/08’. I felt so honored to be given this T-shirt that my eyes started to well up. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life; raise awareness about Domestic Violence until it no longer exists. I know it sounds super-optimistic but I believe, with hard work and heart, it will eventually be eradicated.
After we all received our T-shirts, we were given a ticket and told to head over to the “Shoe Gold Mine”. I was astounded by the outdoor shoe store set up. It was very comfortable with cushioned seats and helpful volunteers donning their purple and white. We were told to choose our favorite from an array of twenty some odd pairs of shoes and boots and give the size to the male volunteers. Then the men would run to a huge purple and white truck (rivaling the size of the inventory of most shoe stores) in search of the shoe. They actually let us take our time trying on the shoes until we found ‘the one’. I already had my eyes on a pair of short black boots for work that I wanted since last year. Happiness glowed all over my face when I saw my 7 ½ make it’s appearance. Then I was escorted to style and profile on one of the catwalks modeling my new shoes and my older pair in my hand while a DJ spun some dance music, after which I would place the shoes in hand in a bin at the end of the runway. Coordinators applauded me as I made my way down but I stopped to applaud them for such a successful and worthwhile cause. They were probably wondering, ‘why is this girl applauding us?' I ended up telling two of the coordinators my reason for attending and I thanked them whole-heartedly. I believe that they knew they made a difference, especially when several survivors of domestic violence strutted their stuff confidently down the catwalks as well. The donated shoes were then displayed on the 'tree of life' (as I nicknamed it) as symbolic leaves. My shoes were the only green ones so I was very proud.
Following the runway display, we were all invited to sit in massage chairs while receiving a relaxing foot massage as servers offered us shoe-shaped chocolates in silver platters. Yummm! I loved the premise. Women need to feel worthy enough to be pampered and celebrated. When you are emitting the light of self love, you will not subject yourself to abuse. Love for self is the key. All in all, in my opinion, this event was a complete success. I made a difference and had fun doing it. Although I was on the receiving end this time, I would love to volunteer for the cause so I am researching for opportunities as we speak. I’ll be keeping you informed as I find out about other events such as this as we observe Domestic Violence Awareness month. I have an idea to raise awareness at my place of employment right now, but it is on the drawing board. I'll let you know how it develops. Tomorrow I will be busy filming a 4 minute piece for a 24 hour film race so the next article will be Monday, October 6th. Looking back now, this article seems like two in one. Well anyway, take care everyone and keep safe.