Amazing things happened last week at Miller Park. Last Thursday the Brewers crushed the Mets 9-1. Matt Garza pitched an impressive game, and Lucroy, Braun and Davis all hit home runs.
But for one Milwaukee group, the most amazing thing was the thousands of dollars raised for an important cause.
The Sojourner Family Peace Center held its 25th annual Tailgate for Peace fundraising event that brings in critical dollars for the many services it offers. The organization serves thousands of domestic abuse victims and family members each year in an attempt to stem the cycle of violence in the home.
By the time the Brewers took the field, the Miller park suite was bustling with more than 200 people eager to eat and win raffle prizes. Autographed sports memorabilia, concert tickets, flights, and other goodies were up for grabs in a digital auction.
The atmosphere was light-hearted, but there was a palpable understanding that everyone was there for much more than a game. Attendees were asked to write a note of hope to survivors of domestic abuse which were then displayed throughout the room. Messages like “Hang in there” and “I found peace and so can you” reminded partygoers of the important battle they were fighting.
“I think a lot of people don’t understand the issue. A lot of people make excuses for it. I think as a community it’s our responsibility to educate people about all the resources available,” said Executive Director Carmen Pitre.
Sojourner Family Peace center sees 9,100 clients each year. Those clients range from victims to their families or friends to even the abusers themselves. The organization uses donated dollars for the confidential and free services it provides like staffing its 24-hour hotline, counseling, resources for its shelter and legal services.
The shelter has a long history in Milwaukee, being one of the first shelters in not only the city, but also the state. Since then, Sojourner has worked to help as many victims as possible and also raise awareness about domestic violence and its consequences.
Many people may see domestic violence as an issue that only affects the victim, but Pitre says that’s not the case. The violence can affect children in the home, families and friends and have an even greater ripple effect.
“I think we are all diminished by violence that happens in our midst. Our neighborhoods, our streets are not as safe. We aren’t as safe in our work places. The Azana Salon incident is an example of how domestic violence really can appear anywhere. Violence can follow people throughout the community,” Pitre said.
And as a nonprofit organization, Sojourner could not do the work it does without events like the tailgate.
“The vast majority of our funding comes from private fundraising sources and because there’s such a wide community impact, having the community give back and recognize what we do is really important,” said Chairman and President of the Board Becky House.
Sojourner is hoping to grow its reach in the next year as it will be changing locations to a new building. The bigger facility breaks ground in September and should be done by next year. With the move, Pitre expects an influx in the number of victims looking for help which means the money it is raising now is even more crucial.