March 27, 2006 – The organizers of the Women's Coalition 25th anniversary party said this is the way life is supposed to be on Sunday Market Square. Elderly residents enjoying a steel pan band and food from local vendors said it should be this way every weekend on the square that was extensively renovated last year.
Still, the children seemed to get the biggest kick out of the event. They got to jump or slide in big blow-up bouncers. They got to meet and talk to clowns. And when that was not enough there were free cotton candy and popcorn, and free face painting.
The event, which was held all afternoon Sunday, had a sober purpose.
Mary Mingus, co-director of the Women's Coalition, said the event was in appreciation for the people who "have been in the trenches helping people in traumatic times."
She said Monday that the Women's Coalition started with just a couple of women 25 years ago but now employed 22 people and has the help of hundreds of volunteers.
She said even with the paid employees, volunteers remain the backbone of the group.
The Coalition provides resources and, when needed, a place of refuge for Crucian victims of domestic abuse, mainly women and children. Those in need can call 773-9272 anytime night or day.
Purple lapel ribbons were available to symbolize the joy of the event as well as the seriousness of the coalition's work. The event was titled Paint the Town Purple, and this year's theme was "25 Years of Caring and Still Standing for Justice."
The Women's Coalition is also involved in community education, working in schools and serving as victim advocates in the court system.
Mingus cited three deaths from domestic violence in the Virgin Islands in recent months, not including the murder on St. Thomas last weekend.
"Domestic violence is a very huge issue in life of women in the territory. We are glad we can be here to be able to offer nonjudgmental support to victims," she said.
Since the group began keeping records in 1984, 41 deaths due to domestic violence have been recorded. "And most of those women had left their partners," Mingus added.
She said the Coalition's services are "free, bilingual and confidential."
The Coalition will hold a tennis tournament in April at the Buccaneer Resort. Mingus said it is the biggest tennis tournament in the Virgin Islands.
The Coalition also takes part in the "Take Back the Night" marches and vigils during October, Domestic Violence Month.
On June 4 the Women's Coalition Walk/Run will be held in Frederiksted. Last year the event was held in Christiansted and attracted about 600 participants.
Mingus said, "A lot of people grew up in St. Croix with domestic violence in their home and did not have support we now give."
She says the Coalition advocates for legislation and tries to keep the issue of domestic violence "out from behind closed doors."
At Sunday's event there was a silent auction that included contributions from over 30 local artists.
Mocko jumbies made an appearance, as did Stanley and the 10 Sleepless Knights, and the Eddie Russell Quelbe Latin Jazz band.
Sponsors of the event included Rohn & Cameron law offices, the E-Max Financial Group, Denali Asset Management, Bank of St. Croix and Wyatt VI Inc.
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