Friday, September 25, 2009

Our VOICE news! Events in October...

By Monica Antonazzo
AmeriCorps VISTA

Did you see what she was wearing?

She should not have been drinking!

He couldn’t control himself.

Boys will be boys.

For the past 35 years, Our VOICE has been serving the Asheville community as a rape crisis center with victim services, prevention and community education. Last year, volunteers undertook a vast community assessment that revealed that the majority of people in Buncombe County see sexual violence as a major issue, but many of us also subscribe to rape myths. Rape myths are misconceptions about sexual violence that tend to blame victims and provide justifications for perpetrators.

For those who would like to join us in addressing these rape myths and working towards our goal of creating a community free from sexual violence, there are several opportunities coming up in the next month. First, in commemoration of our 35th anniversary, there will be a benefit concert at the Grey Eagle on Oct. 4th: Voices, featuring Nikki Talley, StereoFidelics, and Skinny Legs and All.

On October 15, we will host a Community Gathering for the Prevention of Sexual Violence at the MAHEC building, 5:30pm. This is a free event including dinner and a keynote speech from Tony Porter of A Call to Men. Please add your voice to the diverse group of participants that will share their knowledge, experience, and ideas on how to work together on this issue.

Finally, we have three training opportunities for people who would like to get involved with Our VOICE.
Victim Advocate Training (Sept. 29-Oct. 17) prepares volunteers for the crisis line and hospital visits.
Gentle Brothers (Oct. 28-Dec. 16) is a group of men who examine our culture’s depiction of manhood, create an alternative story of masculinity, and serve as mentors to boys as they navigate growing up amongst these pressures.
Community Educator Training (Nov. 30-Dec. 17) prepares volunteers to use innovative approaches as they engage in education around sexual violence in a variety of settings.

Get involved! Make a difference! Be a mentor! For more info, contact Monica Antonazzo at

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let's End Homelessness Together

By Emily Ball
AmeriCorps VISTA
Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative

How many homeless people do you think there are in Asheville?

I’ve been asking this question with staggering results; so far, the best guess has been almost double the real number. Each year the city does a point-in-time count, where shelters, outreach workers, and service providers all do head counts on the same night and combine their numbers to give us a snapshot of how many people experience homelessness on any given night in Asheville. 2009’s point-in-time count was….555.

Five hundred and fifty five people. That’s it.

To be sure, homelessness is a complex problem, and my intent is not to underestimate the seriousness of its contributing factors or the people who work hard to combat it. The homeless community has high rates of mental illness, substance abuse, and criminality. Low rates of education. Severe health problems. Histories short on employment and long on generational poverty.

But in a city as caring and magnanimous as Asheville, a city of 75,000 people whose shared humanity is a stronger bond than their economic divisions, I’m confident that we can find room in our apartment buildings and workplaces, our churches and community groups, our hearts and lives, for 555 of our neighbors who need our support.

Let’s end homelessness together. To find out how you can help, visit