|Area Men Invited to 'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes'|
|01:54PM / Thursday, August 18, 2011|
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hundreds of men will step off the curb at the Popcorn Wagon on North Street to walk one mile (up to Maplewood and back) in women's shoes during Third Thursday events on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m.
Among them will be Mayor James Ruberto, Police Chief Michael Wynn and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski.
The event will be Berkshire County's first "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" and is designed to raise awareness about all forms of gender-based violence while raising funds for the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the county's provider of services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In 2010, the Elizabeth Freeman Center served over 5,500 individuals: 1,400 in North County, 1,720 in South County and 2,465 in Central Berkshire.
Individual walkers are each asked (but not required) to raise a minimum of $55 by securing donations from their friends, families and colleagues to sponsor their walk. The $55 pre-pay guarantees the walker an event T-shirt and a pair of shoes.
Men can opt to wear their own shoes, as long as they decorate them.
"The point isn't to torture men's feet by making them wear stiletto heals, it's the symbolic importance of understanding what it feels like to be an abuse survivor," said organize Ann Miller.
Among those already committed to walking are Pittsfield's mayor and police and fire chiefs.
"I chose to participate in this event, because the Elizabeth Freeman Center is a valuable partner of the Pittsfield Police Department in our efforts to detect and counter domestic violence in our community," said Wynn. "Domestic violence and other violence against women is a persistent problem that cuts across geographic, socioeconomic, class and all other lines, affecting our entire community. I hope that Walk a Mile in Her Shoes will shine a light on these problems and bring them to the forefront of everyone's awareness."
"Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault, and Gender Violence" is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. It was started by Frank Baird in 2001, who in 2007 formed a nonprofit corporation called Venture Humanity. According to the Walk a Mile mission statement, the purpose of the walk is to use a form of public performance to educate the public about sexualized violence while raising funds for service providers. Pittsfield is one of more than 50 communities in the United States, Canada and Europe that is holding a walk between now and the end of 2011.
According to Miller, "There's a 5-year-old boy collecting pledges in Battle Creek, Mich., for their walk on Aug. 27. By late July he had already raised almost $400 of his $2,000 goal. If he can do it - we can do it. We want 300 men to participate."
Locally, the following organizations are sponsoring the event with either cash or in-kind donations: Berkshire Medical Center, Brilliant Graphics, Cain Hibbard & Myers, Goodwill Industries, Melbourne Place, Onyx Specialty Paper, W.B. Mason and W.J. Blueprints & Digital Graphics.
Registration forms are available at Elizabeth Freeman Center, 43 Francis Ave., or Bagels, Too at 166 North St. Walkers can also register on that day at The Popcorn Wagon from 5 to 6. Questions: email@example.com.