Local group to hold Sexual Assault Awareness Month events

News Photo by Mike Gonzalez Paige Allia shows off rocks on Monday, at the Hope Shores Alliance office in Alpena, that local students painted in school as promotion for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Participants could also paint flower pots.

ALPENA — April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Hope Shores Alliance, a nonprofit organization with goals of ending sexual and domestic violence, will hold events later in the month with a theme focused on creating safer communities and building connections.

Jeanine Kaltz, impact director at Hope Shores Alliance, said this month is especially important to talk about matters involving sexuality, which are still considered taboo conversation.

“There are adults who have not had conversations about consent and we really create an environment where everybody’s put at risk,” Kaltz said. “This month, we get to talk about stuff that people aren’t necessarily always hearing. Our communities are going to be so much better and so much stronger if we are all holding perpetrators accountable.”

To bring awareness and to fit the theme, Hope Shores Alliance partnered with local schools to attend various events to create safer spaces for students and community members. During those events, participants could go to a rock and flower pot painting station to create personal items for themselves or the community.

According to Prevention and Community Services Coordinator Paige Allia, this event and others are a part of the preventative side of the month, bringing people together to build and share support for each other.

“We’re calling it planting seeds of hope,” Allia said. “We’re coming together in community to say no more to harm-doers and perpetrators, and we’re going to help create our communities to be safer for everyone, including survivors. So we set up this as kind of a fun activity because it’s a way for people to interact and share the love and support we all deserve.”

The organization also partnered with North Country Candy Gifts by creating two limited drinks, Lavender Freeze and Hope Floats, and $1.50 per drink sold goes to Hope Shores Alliance to support survivors in the area.

Hope Shores Alliance will hold two candlelight vigils in honor of survivors and in memory of victims.

The first vigil, in collaboration with the Alpena Community College, will be from 6 to 8 p.m. on April 24 in Van Lare Hall Commons on campus. The second will be at Robert J. Parks Library in Oscoda on April 25 from 5 to 6 p.m.

“I think culturally, societally we have a long way to go so that we’re all on the same page because sexual violence is a spectrum,” Kaltz said. “I think just about all of us agree that forcing penetration is not okay, but then there are other things that get a little confusing, like catcalling. If something bad happens to you, your community supports you. I believe we can do that.”

To call the 24-hour support line for Hope Shores Alliance, call 1-800-396-9129.


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