As the school year gets into full swing, that means a couple of things for those of us here at REACH. First – backpacks! We are so grateful to our generous donors and to School on Wheels of Massachusetts for helping us assemble and distribute more than 200 backpacks to children of domestic violence survivors. Now that the mountains of backpacks around the office have dwindled and we have our desks back, it’s time for the Waltham Neighborhoods Fall Festival!
Last September was our biggest turnout ever – more than 400 people came to the Waltham Public Library to see and hear great performances, do crafts, get their faces painted, take funny photos, and eat free food. We are thrilled to have Debora Hoffman on board once again this year to help us pull this amazing event together. Debora has been a presence around our office since June, hosting meetings of our volunteer planning committee and working with community partners in Waltham.
The idea for the Fall Festival began with a group of community members who met one night at the library to talk about what they could do to help prevent domestic violence in Waltham. Because isolation from family and friends is a common tactic used by abusers to maintain power and control over their partners, the group discussed how they could reach out to those who may need help. One person pointed out that while we all want to help our neighbors, a major barrier to reaching out or speaking up is that many of us don’t know our neighbors anymore. To address this problem, they suggested we hold a city-wide block party on the lawn of the library, and we’ve been doing just that ever since.
The Fall Festival was born as a way of bringing our community together, getting to know our neighbors, and combating isolation by helping to build social connection. While the issue of domestic violence can often feel like an overwhelming problem to tackle, we believe that small actions can make a big difference. Our goal at REACH is to build healthy communities and we believe that healthier, safer communities are ones where we know and feel connected to one another.
If you’ve never been, this is a great year to come see what all of the fuss is about! The 8th annual Fall Festival, sponsored by REACH and the Waltham Public Library, is this Saturday, September 9, from 1 to 4 pm on the lawn of the library. If it rains, it we’re just going to move the fun inside! Check out the entertainment lineup here.
If you’re not free this Saturday or you don’t have any connection to Waltham, why not start something similar in your own town? It doesn’t have to be this big and involved. If you don’t have sponsors, partners, prizes to give away, or bands to play – neither did we that first year! Everyone starts somewhere, and the important thing is to get neighbors out and saying hello to one another. October will be here before you know it, and since that’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it’s a great opportunity to organize an event in your community. If you would like to get started but need some support, contact our Prevention Team for more information.