Sexual Assault Awareness Month ends with success

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erin Aaron
  • 554th RED HORSE Squadron
As many of you may have noticed, there was an unusual amount of the color teal seen around Andersen throughout April to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a month dedicated to promoting sexual assault awareness and prevention. 

Did you know that one in six women and one in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime? And, every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. 

Of all those instances of sexual assault, only 40 percent are reported to the police. Think about those survivors of sexual assault being someone you know, your sibling, your best friend, your spouse. 

That's why I agreed to lead the SAAM Committee, which was formed in the beginning of March in conjunction with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. Capt. Marie Williams, the Andersen Sexual Assault Response coordinator, and Shari Freeman, assistant SARC, assisted fellow committee members Staff Sgt. Yelida Del Valle Ruiz, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron, Staff Sgt. Julie Smithburg, 36th Force Support Squadron, Staff Sgt. Lishey Brown, 36th FSS, and Staff Sgt. Terrence Baptiste, 36th FSS, in promoting SAAM. 

It was a busy two months! Starting the first week in March, we held weekly meetings to choose the committee members, picked our events and fundraisers, lined up POC's for each event, designed a new t-shirt; completed the fundraising paperwork, wrote and distributed donation request letters, received approval from legal - and all before we could hold our first fundraiser! 

Fortunately, we received many generous donations from local businesses and had tons of willing volunteers without whom we never could have surpassed our goal - raising more than $4,500! Our fundraising came from several events - four funnel cake and snow cones sales, a golf tournament, SAAM T-Shirt sales totaling 636 shirts sold and a donation drive at Micronesia Mall where we experienced tremendous support from the off-base community. 

The best part of it all was on April 29 where many of us from the committee joined with various community members to participate in the annual SAAM motorcade, making our way from Island Girl Power in Dededo to Skinner's Plaza in Hagatna for the community presentation. 

There, the SAAM Committee presented a $4,572 check to the Guam Sexual Assault and Abuse Resource Center Association. Dr. Ellen Bez, the founder of the Guam SAARCA accepted the donation. It was truly rewarding to meet her and to find out how beneficial our donation will be for the Guam community. 

The Guam SAARCA provides numerous services to the local community to help care for victims of sexual assault by conducting medical-legal forensic examinations, treating injuries, preventing disease and providing psychological services in a supportive and healing environment. Also, its mission is to teach risk reduction and rape awareness programs in the schools and in the community as well as receiving and administering funds for the purpose of furthering its mission. 

Now that my time as this year's SAAM Chairman is finished, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who was involved in this year's SAAM events, and everyone who bought a t-shirt, a funnel cake or donated a few dollars, and for all that we were able to do together in the effort to stand up against sexual violence.