BEREA — Tickets to the first Berea College Dancing with the Stars event raised just over $1,300 Friday to help fund support services for victims of sexual violence through the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center.
The center’s services include crisis intervention, long-term therapy and legal and medical advocacy, said executive director Mae Suramek, a Berea graduate.
The stage at Phelps Stokes Chapel featured dancers with less dance experience paired up with those with more experience, similar to the popular ABC television show of the same name. Former Miss Kentucky and Berea College alumna Djuan Trent performed along with several community members, Berea College students and student dance groups.
The BRCC strives to reduce violence in Kentucky and to provide a safe space for women who have been victimized by various forms of abuse, Suramek said. It opened in 1974 as a crisis help line but now has offices in 17 counties, including one in Richmond.
Berea College Women Studies professor Peggy Rivage-Seul is partnering with the center to co-teach a seminar focusing on the practical applications of social justice and feminism. Therapists, advocates and educators of the BRCC will train students on how to respond and offer assistance to someone who has been sexually assaulted.
“The goal is for students to gain an in-depth knowledge of the complex culture that perpetuates sexual violence, and then learn the practical tools to serve as continued advocates for survivors of sexual violence while they are on campus and beyond,” Suramek said.
The center works with community partners such as the Berea Police Department, St. Joseph hospital, Union Church and Berea College to provide services to victims and to educate the community on the prevention and intervention of sexual violence, she said.
Berea College Dancing with the Stars was sponsored by People Who Care, one of the community service programs housed in the college’s Center for Excellence in Learning Through Service.