Barring another blizzard, you might want to take a leisurely Sunday drive on Sunday, December 21 — at night. As a fundraiser for Womanspace and to raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault, residents and businesses will celebrate light as a symbol of peace by lighting luminary candles along driveways and sidewalks throughout Mercer, Somerset, and Hunterdon counties.
“While the holidays are a time of joyous celebration, families in crisis can feel more isolated and alone,” says Lila Cruikshank, chair of the Mercer County arm of the project. “The light from 50,"000 candles will be visible throughout Mercer county — sending a message of hope to victims and showing them that their community believes that peace begins at home.” According to the 2002 New Jersey Uniform Crime, Sunday is the day that most cases of domestic violence are reported and thus was chosen as the day for the event.
Beginning at 5 p.m. candles will be lit. Luminary kits, which include materials for six luminaries to light about 100 linear feet, are available for $10 at Coldwell Banker and Sun Bank on Princeton-Hightstown Road, McCaffrey’s in Southfield Shopping Center, Salon Facci on Clarksville Road, and Wegman’s in Nassau Park. Kits are also available at Curves on Clarksville Road in West Windsor and in Princeton Meadows Shopping Center in Plainsboro. For information call Womanspace at 609-394-0136.
Susan Lawrence and Janice Wilson volunteered Coldwell Banker at 50 Princeton-Hightstown Road as a retail outlet for luminaria this year. “I think it’s important to give back to the community,” says Lawrence. “Domestic violence breaks through all income barriers and people have to learn to reach out for help. Friends are good for many people but Womanspace is there for everyone.”
Lawrence, a Plainsboro resident for 20 years, is a single mother with three children. Wilson, married with two children, lived in Plainsboro for 15 years. They are both realtor sales associates with Coldwell Banker.
Begun last year Communities of Light 2002 was the most successful awareness and fundraising campaign in Womanspace’s history; it raised more than $100,"000 for Mercer County services. This year the project has expanded to include Women’s Crisis Services of Hunterdon County and the Resource Center for Women and Families of Somerset County.
Communities of Light began through the observations of Cruikshank. “I saw this done in another state and knew that this would be a beautiful way to tell people about Womanspace,” she says. “It has its own life. When I found out that one woman entered a shelter because of it I knew it worked.”
Cruikshank would like to see prevention and education programs written into the school’s curriculum. “It’s an endless opportunity for change,” she says.
The proceeds from Communities of Light 2003 will fund the purchase and renovation of “Barbara’s House,” a short term housing facility for clients leaving shelters. It was named after Womanspace founder and former Princeton Mayor Barbara Boggs Sigmund. Rain dates for the event are Sunday, December 28, and Wednesday, December 31.