Tips to make your program work

REMEMBER-Behind all of your hard work and dedication, are thousands of volunteers and friends of Silent Witness who are quietly supporting you and inspiring your work. We are a connected and committed community that is passionate and heartfelt about reaching the goal of “0 domestic murders by 2010”! You can be part of making this goal a reality!

The following are some ideas that might help in your planning. Use the Silent Witnesses in connection with another campus event like Women’s History Month (March), Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October), or a Take Back the Night march.

Recruit co-sponsors from other clubs, organizations or sororities and fraternities to participate in planning and promoting your event. Academic departments like psychology, art, women’s studies, or your counseling center might be good places to start.

Consider approaching local area businesses to raise funds for making or ordering the Silent Witness figures. Then, after your campus event, you can donate them back to the community for further use. Perhaps a local “Y” or woman’s shelter would be interested in housing the witnesses.

Allow plenty of planning time–several months are usually the average. This will allow you to have enough time to get the word out and get people buzzing about how they can get involved.

Try to establish a core planning team or committee. It could be from 3 to 30 people! The key is that these are usually the people who are the cornerstone of your work and help share the multitude of tasks that need to be accomplished.

Contact a local battered women’s shelter, women’s website or national women’s organization to obtain brochures, fact sheets, etc. for distribution with your exhibit. Have a table of these pamphlets available for people to take away with them. Remember, education is a key component of this project

Get a leader at your college, such as the president, well-known professor, or influential leader to sign a letter to be distributed to each student and faculty member. It would express his/her support for your work on the Silent Witness project. This letter could appear in the school paper or sent to individuals before your event to generate interest in the program.

Invite your campus newspaper, radio and TV outlets to cover stories about bringing Silent Witness to your campus. The communications director for your college can help you with a press release to invite local media to attend your event.

Print small commitment cards that visitors to your exhibit will sign and place in a basket. These cards can contain statements like, “I commit to taking care of myself” and “I commit to bringing peace and responsible behavior to my serious relationships”. This way you can invite each individual in your community to make a personal pledge to engage in peaceful relationships.

Consider presenting your witnesses in an outdoor location.

Try to have a counselor or appropriate staff person available at the time of the exhibit as the witnesses often evoke emotional personal experiences where students may need support when processing their own issues.

Take pictures of your exhibit or program. We would love to post some of these on our web site. They are also good for use in the newspaper, yearbook, bulletin boards or on your own college web site.

Don’t forget, Silent Witness can be done with little or practically no funds. We are a grassroots movement and rely on donations and resourcefulness to do our work. Don’t be afraid to politely “ask” for donations of wood, paint, paper, printing, money, candles, ribbon, services, etc. You would be amazed how many people will say YES when they find out the good work you are doing!

Hold a candlelight vigil at the close of your exhibit as a way to wrap up your program and to honor all of the victims of domestic violence in this country and around the world.

Make small purple ribbons for each visitor to your exhibit. Dark purple is the color of remembrance for victims of domestic violence.

Have visitors to your exhibit anonymously write their reflections and impressions of the exhibit in a guest book or notebook after viewing the figures.

Invite your local Clothesline Project to be part of your exhibit. This is a proven, successful partnership. This project provides T-shirts painted by victims of domestic violence and displayed on a clothesline.

Invite speakers from a local shelter, rape crisis center, victims advocacy group, police department, district attorney’s office or campus security to do a presentation about domestic violence. Include students, faculty, staff, local high school teachers, community leaders and others who would benefit from being able to identify the signs of someone in an abusive relationship.

At your exhibit, put out a basket to request donations to a local shelter, a national domestic violence organization, or to the Silent Witness National Initiative.

Get campus police involved by requesting they donate time to help guard the figures in the exhibit.

Ask campus maintenance workers to participate by volunteering time to help set up figures or transport them where needed.

Use flowers or a plant at the foot of each witness and soft music in the space where your exhibit is being displayed. Whatever you can do to add an atmosphere of honor and respect to the victims in important.

Start your own Silent Witness campus e-mail network. For busy people, this is a great way to keep communication lines open about the progress of your exhibit or event. E-mail is what keeps Silent Witness volunteers connected around the globe!

See the Rhode Island Silent Witness program for colleges by clicking on the link below. It provides additional ideas on memorializing the witnesses and for a healing ceremony.

Be creative and innovative! There are numerous ways to accomplish this project. But, the goal is always the same–to speak for those women who can no longer speak for themselves.

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