CLOTHESLINE SHARES A MESSAGE

April 20, 2001 12:00 am
MAKING A CHANGE: Danae Yurgel, sexual assault advocate at Shelter from the Storm, looks at pieces of cloth decorated by community members who wish to speak out against sexual violence. (The Observer/ERIN WITTEN).
MAKING A CHANGE: Danae Yurgel, sexual assault advocate at Shelter from the Storm, looks at pieces of cloth decorated by community members who wish to speak out against sexual violence. (The Observer/ERIN WITTEN).

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

The squares flutter on the clothesline, sometimes snapping straight out in a brisk wind.

Each square carries a colorful message about a grim topic: sexual violence. The message clothesline will hang through Saturday on the grounds of the Shelter From the Storm building, 1111 Fifth St.

Some of the messages were written by children, some by victims and others by volunteers in the Shelter program that advocates for victims of domestic and other sexual violence.

Like many helping agencies, Shelter struggles with funding, relying on a combination of state funds through the Commission on Children and Families, grants and donations.

The organizations primary function is to help and advocate for victims of domestic and sexual violence. A shelter house provides refuge for women who are driven from their homes. The organization also participates in Healthy Start for firstborns and offers various programs to teen mothers.

In the past few years, Shelter has run an outreach education program, providing classes in rural and La Grande schools.

Well go to any school that invites us, said Danae Yurgel of Shelter. Weve been busy this spring.

Yurgel and Shelters childrens program director David Tift are teaching assertion and boundary-setting skills to an eighth-grade physical education class at Union High School. Earlier this year, they taught defensive skills to an advanced physical education class at Union.

Shelter Director Sarah Schlichting said the non-profit organization has no special funds for outreach, incorporating visits to outlying areas into ongoing programs.

We dont fund outreach yet, Schlichting said. Wed like to have programs in all the schools.

In addition to the school programs, Yurgel offers a seven-week self-defense program, Inside Out, in La Grande. The program, co-sponsored by Adult and Family Services, focuses on understanding the victim, self defense, and changing the victims role. The next class will begin May 2.

Wed like to take this class to Union, Yurgel said.

Art Adventures for girls 6 to 14 will take place for six weeks this summer in Union. The program, begun last year, gives girls a chance to explore art and work with women artists.

Information about Shelter programs is available through Yurgel at 963-7226.