Hudson Valley Community Shares in the Beautiful Mission to "Treasure Our Children"

Party Zone USA recently partnered with Empowering Events to launch a community day in support of children affected by domestic violence. "Treasure our Children" brought in over 50 vendors, community resources and even Santa and his Elves in order to bring awareness to the cause and raise a collective of gifts for local children who have been impacted.

Deputy Forbes and Sgt. Palen with Hunter and Jake

Orange County Sheriff’s Office brought in the K9 unit to make the acquaintance of event go-ers and local dance companies performed.  Party Zone's 44,000 square foot indoor amusement park complete with Roller Coaster, Bumper Cars, Haunted Mini-Golf, Soft Play Park, and the Newest Arcade Games was home to hundreds of families looking to spend the day having some fun.

The Little Dance Diamond tappers were wonderful!

All of the participants became unified in the message that abuse will not be tolerated. Mayor Judy Kennedy from the City of Newburgh reminded the crowd that pre-emptive mediation may be part of the solution since these issues start in the home. "Treasure our Children" event organizer Kelly Lopez wanted to also shine a light on the silent victims of domestic violence - the children who bear witness to it.

"Children in homes with domestic violence are also victims," said Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana. "It's important that we come together as a community to recognize this and to support them."Safe Homes of Orange County was in attendance at the event - the organization located in Newburgh offers support services for people affected by abuse.

Elston Craver has been with Safe Homes for 2 years - she is charged with being the community educator reaching out to businesses and organizations to share information about the free and confidential services offered through the program. Included in their tool box are tips for being safe, shelter locations, advocacy services as well as support and prevention. According to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project social nonacceptance will be a main component in resolving the issue on a larger scale. According to a widely distributed community accountability plan, involving the media, sharing services and creating an educational base are all part of resolution. It is not an easy topic to tackle since it is so often occurring behind-closed-doors but as many as 1 in 4 women are affected nationally.

Pat O'Dwyer The question is often, why? Why don't people in abusive relationships JUST LEAVE. Pat O'Dwyer from Democratic Women was in attendance at the event.  O'Dwyer is a community organizer and activist who formerly worked as an assistant district attorney. She has seen first hand what the mark of a violent offender can do to the inner peace and strength of a person. She explained that people need to re-think the question Why doesn't she just leave. O'Dwyer - having seen these cases play out in the courts - stated that the scenarios are often hopeless and victims are so far victimized and afraid that are unable to see any way out and afraid their abuser will follow them where ever they go. She shared this insight hoping it would help shed some light on the issue.

Santa stayed for poses with the kids, taking notes on who has been naughty and who was been nice. The Dance Diamonds and Middletown high school's Piper's dance squad brought wonderful entertainment to the stage in Party Zone's giant back room.

*The mission of Empowering Events (founded by Orange County 911 Dispatcher Kelly Lopez) is to raise awareness, educate and empower domestic violence victims. When there is domestic violence in the home children are also victims. Businesses in the Hudson Valley are generously donating their time and resources to this cause. Empowering Events has partnered with Safe Homes of Orange County and the Orange County Rape Crisis Program to help provide education to individuals and families affected by domestic violence.

Kelly Lopez from Empowering Events Professional Photographs by Rebecca Ruiz - check out her fan page on facebook.