[Middleton] Freedom Van Now


Center for Violence Prevention Director Sandy Middleton

Once a year, some of the coolest chicks of all, the Jackson Free Press chicks, host an event that makes such a difference, you just have to be a part!

The Chick Ball is a major supporter of The Center for Violence Prevention and our efforts to assist victims of domestic violence. Currently, Mississippi ranks No. 2 in the nation for domestic violence occurrences and No. 5 in the nation for domestic violence homicides. In addition, we've been repeatedly hit close to home with the tragic deaths of so many of our own.

Here, at The Center for Violence Prevention, we offer safety to those victims. Most of us fear the threats that exist outside our homes. Imagine if you were a woman afraid to fall asleep in your own home-afraid you might wake up with a knife at your throat or in fear that your little girl might be sexually assaulted during the night. You're not sure whether tonight will be quiet or if some unknown trigger might cause your abuser to erupt.

The safety here at our emergency shelter provides a peace that most of these victims and their children have never known. Repeatedly, our clients tell me that they slept through the night for the first time in months, even years. What a joy it is to see our children transform from traumatized victims who will hardly look into your face to gleeful little kids running and playing on the playground with our day care director. Thankfully, children are resilient and with proper therapy and a lot of love, their wounds can heal over time.

The first step to safety and a new life is our crisis line, 601-932-4198 or 800-266-4198, which is staffed by trained professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer calls from women in distress or women seeking information. Many times, women may just need to discuss a safety plan, so they can leave a violent situation safely. Our staff is trained to assist victims as they develop the best way out.

Safety is only a first step, though. The Center for Violence Prevention also offers HOPE! Through a full-service program of therapy and case management, our clients and their children learn how to live their lives free from violence and intimidation. That's a tall order to fill, but you would be amazed how often it happens. Women are pretty remarkable people, and once they make up their minds to do something different—something better for themselves and their children—great things can happen!

Most times, they just need a little help, and that's where you come in. The chicks have set a goal to purchase a van for the shelter. We call it a Freedom Van because that's what it is to those who need it. Our van provides transportation for our clients during times of crisis, as well as on a daily basis. On one occasion, a client told me that our van was the sweetest thing she had ever seen as she watched us drive up through her swollen eyes after she had suffered a vicious assault. It was her rescue vehicle that day. It also serves as the school bus, grocery van, house/apartment hunter and a variety of transport needs. This van is currently on its last leg and is costing a fortune in maintenance. Our hope is to purchase a new or gently used van from the proceeds of this event. We are also encouraging any auto dealers who might be able to donate a van to contact us.

The proceeds from this event also allow us to assist our clients in a variety of ways. You all are aware of the rising cost of gas, utilities and food. Just imagine your own home multiplied several times! These additional funds allow us to meet the basic needs of our clients, as well as provide some extras. Recently, one of our clients needed two new tires that had been damaged by her abuser. Another client needed bus tickets to travel home (out of state) to her family. Even small needs can make a big difference to those in need. The ability to purchase a small wading pool for our children to play in while their mothers grilled out over the holiday weekend was a blessing and an opportunity in normalcy so needed by our women and their children.

Please do what you can to help by participating in the Chick Ball. Different levels of sponsorships are available, and auction items are still being accepted. Thank you for doing your part to make a difference!

Sandy Middleton is the executive director of The Center for Violence Prevention, a non-profit organization that seeks to provide quality solutions and resources for individuals experiencing abuse. For more information about the center and how you can help, visit mscvp.org.Call 601.362.6121 x 2 to donate to the Chick Ball.

Previous Comments


On one occasion, a client told me that our van was the sweetest thing she had ever seen as she watched us drive up through her swollen eyes after she had suffered a vicious assault. It was her rescue vehicle that day. That part of Sandy's column just killed me. Folks, every single dollar will help these families. Please do what you can to help us buy that van for them.


Enjoyed your article, Sandy! Do you still need furniture? That coffee table I told you about is still available.


Sandy, I think I found you a van. Can you give me a call or shoot me an email? I'll tell you about it.



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