by Dave Meyer
Driving into West Chester, under the canopy of newly changing leaves on a quiet Sunday morning I am reminded of how awesome Chester County is this time of the year. Other than the obvious aesthetics that makes West Chester and its surroundings enjoyable, this Pennsylvania county has also remained one of the strongest in growth and economy during the country’s roller coaster ride during the past several years. West Chester, a small city where even a corner Starbucks seems to fit in amongst the artisan clothiers and sandwich shops; a town where the college kids still act like, well, college kids. Today however, mixed in with the beauty of another season’s changing sights and smells, we headed downtown to recognize and contribute to a cause that has a history mostly hidden behind the veil of this area’s beauty; domestic violence.
West Chester is home to the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County. Since 1976 the DVCCC has been helping victims of domestic violence. They provide a 24 hotline, individual and group counseling, emergency housing, transitional housing programs, legal counseling and advocacy and children’s programs amongst other services. As if that wasn’t enough, they provide all these services and legal representation FREE OF CHARGE.
Sunday, October 20th marked the 2nd annual event benefiting the DVCCC. The Freedom Fashion Show 2013 was held at Más Mexicali Cantina, located at 102 East Market Street in West Chester, PA. Boutiques from West Chester and southeastern PA put the glitz and glam on some local, benevolent models. In the mix was ChesterCounty-PA.com co-founder and president Meghan Kelly (pictured below).
Other models included, the lovely Rain Speciale, owner of Bella & Betty Artisan Boutique, Gennie Sheffer of Mas Mexicali Cantina, Dr. Lauren Schofield, owner of Advanced Chiropractic Wellness Center, Diana Volante, owner of Dragon Gym Martial Arts and Fitness, Alana McGrath, Devin Norma, Ashley Dougherty, Tara Tessie, Jillian Panichelli, Reba Rankin Larney from Swig Bartending, Sara Moody, Shannon Grady, and Jenn Spraque from the Brandywine Roller Girls.
All the proceeds from the event and raffle go to support the DVCCC. Más owners and operators Joanne and John Caulfield are proud to host the fashion show each year and are already looking forward to growing numbers for next year’s event.
A buffet lunch was served courtesy of Más with some desserts compliments of Cakes & Candies by Maryellen, which of course left none of us wanting.
The mild autumn air and sunlight peeking through the windows of the cantina gave off an air of relaxation that the DVCCC and Más, at least for the afternoon, created a respite for the women who struggle with domestic violence. Several speakers, including the beautiful and inspiring Marreya Chambers, between rounds of high fashion told troubling, yet heroic tales of their own experiences with domestic violence. In so many cases women are often unable to help themselves get out of abusive relationships, or if they are able to escape one they find another and another. DVCCC strives to educate and empower women in these situations so that they can identify abusive relationships they are in and give them the strength to get out and heal.
The Freedom Fashion Show 2013 was an enormous success. The contributions of all in attendance, not only monetarily but also with their hugs and kind words, will go a long way towards helping those who remain victims of violence in this beautiful community.
Overall, the Freedom Fashion Show 2013 helped to raise $4,167!
Participating boutiques included:
Artifact, Athleta, Blink, EdenEco, Green Street Consignment, Jane Chalfant, Jaramillo, Joya, May 23, Note Bene, Poonam Designs, Rack-n-Roll, Tish, Jewelry by Emily Hendrie Donato and Sarah Rowe.
Participating salons included: