Alpha Chi Omega raised more than $7,000 for local nonprofit SisterCare during its fourth annual Paint War fundraiser. Striving to “paint away domestic violence,” more than 30 teams and 800 participants rallied together on the Greene Street Fields on Wednesday evening.
According to the Violence Policy Center’s 2018 study, South Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for the highest number of women murdered by men annually. SisterCare serves domestic abuse survivors and their children and works to prevent domestic violence. Founded in 1981, it currently helps over 8,000 survivors every day within the Richmond, Lexington, Newmond, Kershaw and Fairfield counties.
“I feel like in college, domestic violence is something so prevalent,” said Issy Rushton, the chapter president of Alpha Chi Omega and third-year psychology and criminal justice student. “So, for us to be able to have an event like this and bring awareness to an issue that impacts so many more people than we think, is so important.”
Vice president of philanthropy and third-year public health student Emma Kate Rhymer organized the Paint War along with help from Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy board, which consists of 10 officers.
“I couldn’t be happier — we went out with a bang, we raised more money than we did last year, so to keep on growing and spreading that awareness of domestic violence is all I want to do,” Rhymer said.
While event participants consist heavily of sorority and fraternity members, anyone can participate. The USC women’s club soccer team showed up for the second year in a row in order to support the cause and have a blast doing so.
Third-year biomedical engineering student Aideen Gill is the vice president of USC’s women’s club soccer team and plays midfield. Gill participated in this year's paint war.
“I think that’s what’s so special about a lot of things that happen on this campus — organizations like this don’t just get involved because they have to for service; they do it because they want to and they really enjoy it,” Gill said.
The team won the paint war by getting the least amount of paint on their white banner. As a prize, the women’s soccer team will receive $200 from Alpha Chi Omega’s budget to go towards a philanthropy of their choice.
“I’m really happy with our turnout — we had a lot more people than I thought,” fourth-year history student Hannah Jamison said. Jamison is also the secretary of the women’s club soccer team and plays left back as number 21. “We had the heart, we had the soul, and now we’re here.”
While winning made the event extra enjoyable for the soccer team, participants said they were able to gain something meaningful from the Paint War.
“I think it’s really cool to get to have a guest speaker and for her to tell a personal story,” second-year public health student and Alpha Chi Omega member Erin Dare said. “While it’s a really fun event, I think it’s important to remember the real reason why we do it.”
Volunteer and community outreach coordinator of SisterCare, Shatoyia Davenport, spoke at the event for the third consecutive year. Davenport shared that both her and her mother are domestic violence survivors, and wants students to remember that “those who you work with, who you live with could be experiencing domestic violence and they need your assistance.”
While physical abuse is more visible, emotional abuse can prove more difficult to recognize. Davenport’s definition of emotional abuse is when someone undermines an individual’s self worth and self esteem by means of infidelity, blaming, isolation, constant criticism, disrespect, unhealthy conflict leading to arguments and other damaging behaviors.
Even though SisterCare is grant-funded, private donations assist the organization with all of its programs, such as helping those in shelters in need counseling or legal assistance. SisterCare works with USC’s Interpersonal Violence Support service to provide students with resources and referrals that assure that students are getting the assistance that they need.
“The Paint War’s fundraiser is changing lives. You’re helping your classmates, your family, your friends or your roommates,” Davenport said. "Anyone, including me, can be a victim of domestic violence, no matter their race, religion, education status or gender … Keep bringing awareness, keep giving, keep supporting, keep changing lives for the better. We need you.”