By Brendan Losinski
BEVERLY HILLS — Abuse within a family can seem like a problem the average person can do very little about.
Often, the problem takes place behind closed doors and in the shadows.
Local nonprofit Mend on the Move is giving people a chance to do something about it at an upcoming fundraiser.
Called “Love in Motion,” the fundraiser will take place 7-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10, at Northbrook Presbyterian Church in Beverly Hills.
“Mend on the Move is all about putting words into action,” explained founder Joanne Ewald. “The goal is to help women who have suffered from abuse become independent again. This can be a complicated process, not only for emotional reasons, but because some need to work around caring for their kids, holding a job, dealing with legal issues or even hiding from an abusive spouse.”
Rochester Hills musician Olivia Millerschin and her band will perform while a number of items — such as Red Wings, Tigers and Grand Prix tickets — are auctioned off in a silent auction. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be available. Tickets cost $15 and are available at eventbrite.com — search for “Love in Motion” — or at the door.
Ewald started Mend on the Move after she learned about how wide-reaching the problems of abuse are and how survivors of abuse can face challenges most people never have to.
“I’m a jewelry artist, but my background is in journalism and corporate communications,” said Ewald. “I was working to promote some benefits that fight human trafficking and learned a lot about the subject. While in the process of learning more, about three years ago I traveled to a recovery center that made soap products to raise money for victims of abuse. While there I learned many of the women were abused as children, which I was as well. I thought I could do something to help, so I started forming Mend on the Move.”
Mend on the Move sells handcrafted jewelry created by women who have survived abuse. “By learning jewelry-making skills, survivors can earn an income and grow in confidence and independence while in recovery,” states the nonprofit’s website, www.mendon themove.org.
Mend on the Move is connected with Aliyah’s House, a Howell-based recovery house where abuse survivors can stay while they rebuild their lives. Linda Storey, the founder of Aliyah’s House, said the Mend on the Move project helps those staying with her in a number of ways.
“It helps because we have girls often with learning difficulties because they’re coming out of trauma-based lifestyles,” explained Storey. “These projects are very therapeutic, and they are also getting paid for it. We provide for food and housing while they live here, but this gives them the ability to pay for other goods. We have some other girls who are on probation, and they have to work around those restrictions and obligations, so getting a full-time job can be hard. This gives them the opportunity to earn an income they might not otherwise be able.”
The house began collaborating with Ewald through a mutual friend. Besides the financial and logistical burdens that moving past abuse can pose, there are also emotional hurdles to tackle. Storey said a group project such as Mend on the Move can be an effective means of doing so.
“I’ve sat there while they’re making the jewelry, and there’s a lot of ministry and therapy that can go on while they work,” said Storey. “They get to talk through their issues.”
As both Mend on the Move and Aliyah’s House have been in operation for less than two years, each is looking for the community to support its ongoing efforts.
“If you run a nonprofit, you need fundraisers,” remarked Ewald. “We need the help of the community so we can continue our mission.”
Both women said lending a hand is important. Storey said that’s what’s great about the fundraiser: It doesn’t require people to make a large contribution to help. Just buying one piece of jewelry can make a difference.
“I’m going to be speaking at the fundraiser,” said Storey. “We all need to do something to help. Some of us are called to put our feet into action, but others can support us behind the scenes by purchasing jewelry or making a donation. If you do, you are really helping these girls, and the effect of this support can be far-reaching. I’ve seen how much of a difference can be made in the lives of these girls.”
“I think it can be very overwhelming for the public to read about abuse and human trafficking,” added Ewald. “They feel it’s too big of a problem for them to do anything. ‘Love in Motion’ lets people make a difference just by buying a piece of jewelry. Also, by buying one of these pieces, you are making a direct connection with a survivor.”