DASAS to host masquerade charity event Oct. 20

DOWAGIAC — One local organization will be taking a glimpse back to the roaring ‘20s with a fundraiser to support services for domestic and sexual abuse victims.

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services will host The Great Gatsby Gala, a masquerade charity event, at 7 p.m. Oct. 20. The event is being hosted at Round Oak Revisited/Philo’s Pub, 137 S. Front St., Dowagiac.

Cost for the event is $30 per person, which includes one drink ticket, hors d’oeuvres and dessert.  Cocktail attire and masks are requested. A limited number of masks will be available at the event for purchase.

All money raised from the event will go toward DASAS’ general operating costs. The organization serves St. Joseph, Van Buren and Cass counties with the objective of leading efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault in southwest Michigan. DASAS offers a number of services to domestic and sexual abuse survivors including a 24-hour crisis hotline, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy and access to housing and financial assistance, in addition to many other services.

“The money raised will go toward continuing services and support to survivors of domestic and sexual violence,” said Director of Advocacy Deborah Hackworth.

Though this is not the first time DASAS has hosted its masquerade ball, it is the first time the event will be hosted in Dowagiac, as the event has previously been hosted in St. Joseph County.

“We really want to bring awareness to the subject of domestic violence to Cass County, but also bring awareness of our services to the county,” Hackworth said. “When we were reexamining how to do [the ball], we knew we wanted to do it in Cass County. Everything just came together so well with Round Oak Revisited. As the theme is Gatsby, and their pub has kind of a speakeasy quality to it, it was perfect.”

DASAS Director Rose Ludwick agreed that the event will be an opportunity to spread awareness about DASAS services to Cass County.

“We really wanted to bring more awareness into Cass County communities,” Ludwick said. “We do a lot of our business in St. Joseph County and Three Rivers, so we wanted to expand, get to know some of the movers and shakers in the Cass County area and just to know some people a little bit better in that community.”

One of the unique aspects of the masquerade ball is that the masks that are required are symbolic. The masks signify the fact that some survivors may want to put on a mask in order to seem healthy and perfect to the outside world.

“Many survivors wear many masks to hide the fact that they are victims, to hide the shame that they feel, to be able to keep themselves safe,” Hackworth said. “The secrecy behind sexual and domestic violence is what allows it to thrive. So, the masks are symbolic of the secrecy behind domestic violence. We want to unmask the mask of guilty, the mask of shame, the mask of secrecy, so that [survivors] can heal and be free of violence.”

Both Hackworth and Ludwick said they believe it is important that the Cass County community comes together for the fundraiser to not only keep services for survivors alive, but to send the message to survivors that they are supported in Cass County.

“We just want to say that [survivors] don’t need to hide behind a mask, that we are here for support,” Ludwick said. “We want to shine a light of the dark subject that is domestic violence. It really is a community effort to try to help survivors to rebuild their lives and become healthy, functioning members of society, so it’s important for the community to be involved.”