There is a lot of talk these days about sexual harassment and assault. You can’t turn on the TV or read the news without seeing it. With movements like #MeToo and others, many women are coming forward and speaking out about traumatic incidents of harassment or assault that have shaped their lives. But have you ever thought about what about happens to victims of violent sexual assault when they have been taken to a hospital? Usually their clothes and personal belongings are taken by law enforcement for use as evidence. And this doesn’t just happen to women – men and children are also among the thousands of victims of sexual assault committed in the state of Washington and treated in local hospitals each year.
But here is the tough thing. When it comes time to go home, these women, men and children have nothing to wear once they leave the facility. Think about that for a minute. These victims have already been through the worst experience of their lives and now, to top it all off, they have nothing to wear home. Some hospitals do provide clothing and hygiene products to assault survivors, but not many. That is where an organization called Assistance League of the Eastside lends a helping hand and loving support by providing these patients with what they call Assault Survivor Kits®. Each kit contains personal care items such as sweatpants and a sweatshirt, socks, underwear and a hygiene kit which includes a toothbrush, comb, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, lotion and a hair elastic. This organization works with hospitals throughout the state, helping to restore dignity and lend a caring hand during a time of great vulnerability.
In 2017, Assistance League of the Eastside provided 2,333 Assault Survivor Kits® to hospitals throughout our state. Out of this number, 392 were for children. Assistance League makes sure each child receives socks and underwear upon leaving the hospital. Children taken to Harborview Hospital in the Seattle area are given a comfort item like a stuffed animal, to help the child through the trauma. This is funded through a grant that was received by Assistance League, specifically for child survivors served through Harborview.
The Kirkland Kiwanis Foundation recently made a $1562.00 donation to Assistance League of the Eastside, specifically earmarked for these assault kits. Kirkland Kiwanis member Anya Bomgardner, who is also a member of Assistance League of the Eastside, won a raffle at one of the Kiwanis meetings, netting her $362. She used her winnings as seed money for a $1200 donation made by the Kirkland Kiwanis Foundation, bringing the total to $1,562.00.
Assistance League helps our community in other areas as well with programs for women and children in need. Operation School Bell® is one of the ways Assistance League helps local children needing school clothes. This program provides funding to students whose parents can’t afford to buy them school clothes and gives children a chance to shop for new clothing, which assists in a child’s self-esteem and in their having a more successful school experience.
Other programs provided by Assistance League help victims of domestic violence, and women and children who are homeless. If you would like more information about Assistance League of the Eastside and how you can help, visit their website at www.aleastside.org.
If you have questions about the Kirkland Kiwanis Foundation, go to www.kirklandkiwanisfoundation.org. or contact Tom Pendergrass, Secretary at (206) 910-1949. You could also drop by a meeting at the Market Street Café in Kirkland on Wednesday at noon. They will buy you lunch and guarantee you will have a good time!
Left: Marlene Vacknitz, President Eastside Assistance League
Middle: Dale Sahr, Prudent Kiwanis Club of Kirkland
Right: Anya Bomgardner, Member of Kiwanis and Assistance League