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YWCA Hosts First HEART Gala For Domestic Violence Survivors

YWCA of Northwest Indiana

This Valentine’s Day season domestic violence survivors were the guests of honor at this year’s HEART Gala hosted by the YWCA of Northwest Indiana. In order to protect the survivors’ safety no identifying information was used. 

The YWCA hosted its first HEART Gala on Monday. HEART stands for Here Everyone Appreciates Real Transformation.

YWCA CEO, Paula Hughes-Schuh, says the gala was for all clients living in the 95 bed shelter. The shelter is a safe place for men and women and for people seeking recovery from addiction.

Heather’s Closet donated dresses for the guests and for some women it was the first time they had worn a formal dress.

“To feel good about yourself and to just celebrate love even if that’s loving yourself. We just want folks to have a sense of celebration in their lives because I think sometimes celebration is lacking but it goes a long way towards healing,” said Hughes-Schuh.

The gala included dinner, dessert, music a photo booth and child care was provided.

“We did this because we think everybody deserves to feel love and so many of the people that find themselves within our walls have not had enough love in life and we wanted to show them there is plenty of love out there for them,” added Hughes-Schuh.

Terri Shaw, a professor of psychology at Indiana Tech was the invited guest speaker. She spoke about her personal experiences and connected with the guests.

Director of Residential and Crisis Center, Carla Kilgore, says the guests are going through life changes and Valentine’s day season can be hard, that’s why they decided to have the gala.

“To let them know they are our valentine and they are worthy of the most loving kindness that we can give them,” said Kilgore.

The Fort Police Department was involved in the planning process and they volunteered to do the serving of the food and cake for the night.

Sergeant Jim Seay said he attended to make sure the guests know the police department is ready to help in any way they can.

“Cause a lot of times they are afraid to approach us and if you are in a bad relationship that is not the time to be afraid to approach an officer. We encourage anyone that is in a bad relationship to approach us let us know we have people that can help,” added Seay.