Fashion shows usually focus on beauty, but at the upcoming Soroptimist International of Kent Spring Luncheon and Fashion Show, the main attraction is pretty ugly.
What is it? Domestic violence.
The fashion-show luncheon, set for 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 23 at Meridian Valley Country Club, will focus on raising awareness and funds for domestic-violence programs in Kent.
At the same time, the luncheon also promises to be a fun affair, offering local women the chance to socialize, enjoy a gourmet lunch and view samples of Coldwater Creek’s summer fashion lineup.
“We have a lot of crops in style, and flip-flops are very much in style, and we have some beautiful silk tops to go with our crops,” said Coldwater Creek’s sales lead, Denia Schmidt, about the fashions the Kent Station store will display at the luncheon.
“The color scheme for this season seems to be yellow and orange, and then black and white,” Schmidt added, of the palette that folks can expect for the newest fashions.
But there’s a greater connection than you might expect between the social issue of domestic violence and fashion issue of new clothes.
The show “ties in with domestic violence well, because self-image is a very important issue for people who have suffered from domestic violence,” said Soroptimist Carla Loux, who helped organize the event.
Domestic violence is a major issue for the city of Kent, according those who work with the victims.
More than 800 domestic violence misdemeanor cases are currently open at the Kent Municipal Court, said Anne Marie Tennison, coordinator for Kent’s Domestic Violence and Crime Victim Program.
“Talking to other advocates in King County, our numbers are extremely high comparatively,” Tennison said, adding that the 800 misdemeanor cases don’t take into account domestic violence that has either escalated to a felony or has gone unreported by the victim.
And while the problem of domestic violence is real, the programs that deal with it — including temporary housing and counseling services for victims, and treatment programs for abusers — often get the short end of the stick when it comes to government funding.
“We have to raise most of the money through private donations,” said Kellie Rogers, who works with domestic violence victims at Safe Havens and the YWCA, as well as co-chairing the Kent Domestic Violence Task Force.
Rogers is scheduled to give a brief presentation on domestic violence at the Soroptimists’ luncheon.
Luncheon attendees will also have the chance to peruse literature from the Kent Domestic Violence Task Force members, and see some of the local resources available to victims.
The Soroptimists say they’re also hoping to have two “silent victim” displays at the luncheon. Silent victims are life-sized silhouette cut-outs of women, with a plaque attached to the front of each telling the story of a woman killed by her husband or boyfriend. The displays offer a sobering reminder of what can happen when victims of domestic violence don’t receive help in time.
“It’s extremely important to bring attention and education to the general community about domestic violence, and how widespread it is, and how you can prevent something,” said Tennison.
Event organizers said they want to do just that with the luncheon.
“We’re really hoping with all of the task-force materials and resources, that people will take advantage of (those resources) and become more aware,” said Loux.
Domestic-violence prevention is the Kent Soroptimist club’s “identifying project” — its major, long-term goal — according to Adrienne Rockwell, the club’s fundraising committee chair.
In addition to the luncheon fundraiser, the club sets aside $2,000 annually to support local domestic-violence programs. Its members also participate in an annual walk-a-thon for domestic violence in October.
Contact Christine Shultz at 253-872-6600, ext. 5056, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
What: Kent Spring Luncheon and Fashion Show
When: 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 23.
Where: Meridian Valley Country Club, 24830 136th Ave. S.E., Kent.
Info: 253-631-3372 or 253-630-4501.