What do you do if you are the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, or human trafficking? All the people here tell their friends that there are nurses out there, that are specially trained who can help you. That's invaluable. This event has been going on for four years now. This is the biggest one yet. There are two things in particular about the fundraiser: The money and the gifts are tremendously helpful. We couldn't send our nurses to all the trainings, certifications and evidence collection trainings without the funds. But even more than that, is the awareness. That's invaluable. I've been a forensic nurse for 24 years. There's more awareness now, definitely. Some of the things are new — not new that they are happening — but new that people are hearing about them. For example: strangulation. There are new legal penalties if someone is strangled in a domestic assault, so we've started doing a different kind of evidence collection. And we testify in court to that. Another thing is human trafficking. That's not a term that's been around forever, even though the crime of trafficking has been. So, spreading awareness about those things is important to us.
The foundation that works for Bon Secours and (helps the programs at Bon Secours) started this with the help of the Wine, Women and Shoes organization, to help the forensic nurses. The forensic nurse program takes care of patients who report they have been victims of abuse. The funds are used to help with the training of the forensic nurses, so that they have the expertise. And any new knowledge that comes out helps with direct patient-care services. Medications, clothing, whatever they may need, special equipment, cameras, anything we may need — these funds go toward that.
The Wine, Women and Shoes organization is international, I think. (It has 300 events in North America, according to its website.) We have a very dedicated group of volunteers who are the Wine, Women and Shoes committee. They plan all year for this event, they work really hard to pull it off. Last year, I believe the total money raised [at this event] was somewhere over $50,000. Their goal is $100,000. Every year, they try to get bigger and raise more. — As told to Scott Elmquist