Artists raise funds for safe house, Casa Vida
By Arooj Ashraf, La Prensa Correspondent
Cleveland: The Negative Space gallery buzzed with live music by ‘Rice & Beans’ as 60 people mingled with food in hand bidding on their favorite art pieces on display. Seven local artists donated their art in support of the Latina Project Casa Vida, a safe house operated by Domestic Violence and Children Advocacy Center’s Latina Project advisory committee, for abused women in dire need of protection and security.
Gabriela Sehinkman serves on the advisory committee which organized the fundraiser to provide support; “The house was an anonymous donation,” she said. Since Dec. 2011 it has been providing Latina victims with a safe place to recover. The committee provides many services ranging from mental health counseling to legal aid services. Up to two families can stay at the house rent free and the organization provides for basic needs such as transportation, clothing and supplies.
Ms. Sehinkman said the upkeep of the house provided unique challenges to the organization’s budget and they considered and art show benefit as an opportunity to raise funds. “Most of the artists are donating their pieces upfront,” she said and the silent auction exceeded expectations.
The art pieces included Mexican dolls called “Catrinas,” typical of Day of the Dead, and several abstract from artists Dante Rodríguez, Ana Luisa Sánchez, Rafaél Valdivieso Troya, José Vásquez, María de Jesús Paz, Hector Castellanos Lara, and portrait pieces from Mark Krieger.
DVCAC provides education to create awareness of domestic violence and highlight services available to victims. “Sometimes communities look the other way not out of neglect but not knowing,” she said. The aftermath of Ariel Castro’s serial kidnappings in Cleveland has heightened the community’s general sense of responsibility and sensitivity to issues of violence against women, said Ms. Sehinkman, adding that knowledge can be a catalyst to change.
DVCAC reports nearly 1 in 4 women experience abuse; verbal and physical, by an intimate partner in their lifetime but fear and shame keeps victims from reporting incidents. She said the national figures of domestic violence among the Latino community are similar to most ethnicities but unreported cases are much higher.
Ms. Sehinkman added in minority and immigrant communities the stress of immigration proceedings often increases the triggers of domestic violence. Casa Vida is also a sanctuary for undocumented victims as they await legal paperwork to be able to work, and find housing.
For more information and to support the project visit: www.dvcac.org
Note that the Domestic Violence Helpline is 216-391-HELP and the Family Helpline is