Ladies Night at Compassionate

Vivian Alexander, right, and Mary Davis sing a worship song during the Compassionate Outreach Ministries Ladies Night of Empowerment.

BRAD MCCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 3:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 3:47 p.m.

Safety information and demonstrations to prepare women to fend off an attacker, along with a healthy dose of humor to repel stress, were some of the highlights of "Ladies Night of Empowerment" hosted by the Women's Fellowship Committee of Compassionate Outreach Ministries.



* Pastor: Bishop Larry J. Dennison.

* Location: 320 SE 43rd St.

* Services: Sunday School begins at 9 a.m., followed by morning worship at 10 a.m. Midweek fellowship is 7 p.m. Wednesday.

* Phone: 352-373-1888.

In addition to music and prayer, the 110 women who attended the event were treated to safety information and demonstrations by Gainesville Police Department Sgt. Paris Owens and a gospel comedy routine by Tia Stover, a Christian comedian and member of Johnson Chapel Baptist Church.

The event was held Friday evening at the Compassionate multipurpose facility at 1124 NE 3rd Ave. The theme of the program was "Reflecting the Beauty of the Lord."

Members Vondalyn White presided over the program and Roberta Bell offered the prayer. Songs were provided by Stephanie Williams on piano and there was a duet by Mary Davis and Vivian Alexander, also members of Compassionate.

Owens of GPD warned the participants of dangers in the community, specifically sexual and domestic violence and gang violence.

"We women have to be on the alert," Owens said. "We don't have to depend on anyone to defend us." She also shared with the audience the following safety tips:

* Be aware of your surroundings.

* Walk with confidence with your head held high. Walking with your head down says "prime target," she said.

* Park your car in a well-lit area.

* Have your car keys ready to get in quickly and then lock the door.

* Look under your car and in the back seat before getting inside.

* Close the blinds in your home.

* Carry a whistle and use it if threatened, or yell loudly.

* Have your cell phone ready in your hand.

* Monitor your children and their interaction with social media.

* If attacked, strike the nose, eyes, shin or groin.

* Be careful who you invite into your home, especially if you have children and teens.

Owens also read the definition of domestic violence, according to Florida Statutes 741.28. It reads, "Domestic violence means any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member."

Owens said she was a victim of domestic violence and has a scar over her eye from a punch to the face.

"Victims come in all sizes," Owens said. "Anyone can be battered and put in a domestic (violence) situation."

Owens said domestic violence is often not reported because the victim is ashamed and/or embarrassed.

She said anyone who knows that domestic violence is taking place should report it and maybe save someone's life.

"Domestic violence is a form of bullying," Owens said. "Do your part and report it."

Comedian Stover poked fun at church folks. She said there is a special language church people use.

"You ask for something and the answer is 'I'll pray on it,' " Stover said. "That means NO and you won't here from her again."

Stover also joked about initiating a church relocation service to send some of the members to another church and she shared jokes about church women and to-go boxes and those bags of peppermint that some women always have in their possession.

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