Community responds well to 'Handprint Project'

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- To kick off this year's V-Day movement, a local shelter for the physically and emotionally abused went out to the streets of Albany as part of an effort to end domestic violence.

Albany's first "Handprint Project" was conducted throughout the day Monday. Men were called out to five locations in the area to place their handprints on a board as a pledge to not commit or condone violence against women.

The five locations were the Government Center, Darton College Student Union, Turner Job Corps Center, Albany Technical College Student Union and Albany State University.

As of 3 p.m., more than 500 men had visited one of those locations to make the pledge. At that time, Turner Job Corps had the most with 260.

"I think it has been a pretty good response," said Clara Knight Lewis, an outreach advocate for the Liberty House, from the Government Center site as the project was ongoing. "Most people that have come by have been supportive -- and have come back with others."

It is no coincidence that officials opted to conduct the project on Valentine's Day.

"It's a significant day; it's a day of love," said Lewis. "(Domestic violence) is thought of as a woman's fight, but we want men to know they are part the process."

This is something the Liberty House might be doing again, Lewis said. "This would be something we would like to do annually," she said.

When the participants put their prints on the board, they were handed a pledge which states that those taking the pledge will not only refrain from committing domestic violence -- but that they will teach other males not to condone such behavior and also teach their daughters self-esteem and self-worth.

"It is time for men to stand against domestic violence," the pledge concluded. "These acts destroy the fabric of our communities. We honor the leadership of the many women that have fought tirelessly on this issue and we join them now in solidarity, firmly committed to equality."

V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls that raises funds and awareness through benefit productions of "The Vagina Monologues" and other artistic works. A presentation of "The Vagina Monologues" is set to take place at the Darton College Theatre as well as the Albany State ACAD Auditorium.

The benefit production will take place at 8 p.m. March 25-26 at Darton, and 3 p.m. March 27 at ASU. Admission will be $10 for the general public or $7 with a student ID.

Statistics from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation indicate that there were 45 family violence incidents in 2009 that resulted in fatal injury.

There were 56 that resulted in permanent disability, 659 that resulted in gun or knife wounds and 328 that resulted in sexual abuse.

"(The Handprint Project) is a nice way to set example for the community," said Laura Terry, a Liberty House volunteer helping out with the project Monday.

For more information on the V-Day movement, call the Liberty House at (229) 439-7094.