Standing over six feet tall, donned in a red cape and holding a scythe, the Grim Reaper is difficult to miss. Julie Donrich is raffling him off as a fundraiser for SAFE San Juans., a local non-profit that works to empower and support survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
“October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and Halloween so it all just kind of aligned,” Donrich, owner of Julie’s Nursery said, pointing to the purple lights strung up on local businesses to spotlight the month. “It was my own personal challenge, to see how much I could raise for them.”
The tickets are three dollars each and will be on sale at Julie’s Nursery, 150 Web Street, until Sat. Oct. 22 at noon, when the winner will be announced. Julies is open Wednesday – Sunday from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Donrich’s raffle has already raised hundreds of dollars for the cause, with one more week to go.
Dave Dunaway, Executive Director of SAFE San Juans, explained that SAFE was not involved in either the idea, planning or organizing of the raffle. “Julie came up with it on her own because she wants to support survivors of domestic violence and she figured that a raffle would help the local DV agency that supports them,” said Dunaway.
One of the SAFE’s advocates visited the Nursery to discuss SAFE’s Purple Light Nights campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Dunaway explained. Julie told the staff person about the fundraising raffle. “After a shared laugh at the serendipitous moment, the two put their heads together to think about how to make Julie’s effort even more successful,” Dunaway said.
Working together, SAFE San Juan’s staff now has been spreading the word about the raffle, while Julie’s Nursery currently displays the non-profits brochures. Donrich and her crew can easily share information about SAFE San Juans and the support SAFE provides, including its mission to serve residents and visitors county-wide to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault/abuse while working to reduce abuse.
Donrich said she has been a supporter of SAFE in the past and has been aware of the local problem for years. She is surprised by how many people are in denial, or just simply unaware of the issue.
“I have had many people, even women, say to me ‘really? Its a problem here?’ It isn’t the island’s fault, we are just a microcosm of the nation, and we are isolated,’” Donrich said.
The only way to prevent the problem, and keep people safe, she continued, is through education and spreading awareness.
By raffling off the Grim Reaper, she hopes to aim a spotlight at the subject and let people know there is help for those who need it. For those young and vulnerable, she hopes it helps them realize they can say no, and can seek support if they need protection.
The response from islanders has been positive, with some raffle ticket buyers telling her if they win, she can keep the reaper for next year and do it again.”
“It’s a difficult topic that a lot of people don’t want to hear. This eases them into a conversation, and that’s what you have to do,” Donrich said. “Maybe this can start something else in town, inspire someone else to get creative,” Donrich said. “We have to work together as a community.”
To learn more about SAFE San Juans visit https://safesj.org/.