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Charla Schafer, left, and Judy Yates are two of the key leaders in helping women and children suffering from domestic violence through their positions at MCSA. 

Your sister. Your mother. Your girlfriend or wife. Your grandmother.

Four women. All a part of your heart, all a part of your life.

And, according to national statistics, one of them has been a victim of domestic abuse.

“Over 25 percent of women have been a victim of domestic violence at one or more points in their lives, and 80 percent of the time, if children have been involved, they have witnessed or been a victim to that abuse themselves,” said Charla Schafer, executive director of the Muscatine Center for Social Action’s domestic violence shelter. “That’s one reason why Domestic Abuse Awareness Month is important.”

But the official designation of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month should only be one of twelve months in which providing care for the victims and building the social scaffolding to eliminate the abuse is a priority, Schafer said.

“It’s a year-long thing for us, and for everyone,” she said. “These are people you know, you care about, people in our community, women and children, who need our help. I think that, as a community, to support our neighbors and to help them when they’re at their lowest points and under the worst circumstances is the true sign of a strong community.”

Along those lines, MCSA has a number of charity events planned for this month, the inaugural of which was the first BBQ Rib Competition for Charity and Open and brought in huge crowds this past weekend at Chamberlin Heating & Air Conditioning.

“We’re not sure of how much money it raised yet, but it was packed pretty much the whole day. So that’s looking really good, and Chamberlin very generously has offered to match dollar-for-dollar, so we’re very grateful to them for that,” Schafer said. “We’re very grateful for all of the help the community has offered us and we’re happy that we’ve had a number of community organizations like Chamberlin step up to help us.”

That’s been deeply needed, as all state and federal funding for the shelter was cut in 2014, leaving MCSA to rely on donations and fundraisers.

Two other fundraisers coming this month include the River Cities Throwdown rock concert, featuring 20 bands from 11:30 a.m. to midnight Oct. 14 at Pearl City Station, and A New Salon and Spa and Grandma Cindy’s Kitchen’s Yard Sale and Bake Sale from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 22 at Grandma Cindy’s Kitchen, 5900 S. Highway 61. Both will be donating proceeds to the shelter, helping to raise awareness.

Every penny counts, Schafer said.

“It’s incredibly important to have a local shelter and to provide what we are able to provide to women and children, a safe space for them to go, where they know they will be welcomed,” said Judy Yates, MCSA Domestic Violence Shelter Coordinator. “It’s important because, when women leave, we want them to be able to come to a place in their community, so they don’t lose that. If they have to leave town, to go to a bigger city, because that’s the only place for them to find a shelter, they can lose their jobs, they’re leaving behind friends and family, their children can end up having to leave their friends and schools, and that makes it all the more difficult for them to leave the abusive situations. So, having a local shelter and having the funding for all that we do is critical.”

Both women agree that the citizens of Muscatine have been extremely positive and generous in supporting their cause, and are certain that will continue with support of the events they have planned this month, as well as others throughout the year.

“In 2014, the shelter was going to be closed, and the community came together to raise the money to keep it open,” Schafer said. “There’s been a consistent component in our community of support for our shelter or it wouldn’t exist. MCSA is very proud to have that support and to be a part of this community.”

For more information on upcoming events, Domestic Violence Awareness Month or MCSA, visit www.mcsaiowa.org or call (563) 264-3278.

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