Anew Center To Hold Annual 5K Run Walk Saturday

The Salvation Army Anew Center will be holding its seventh annual 5K Anew Run and Walk on Saturday.

The event, which is one of the only fundraisers held by the Anew Center, begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Salvation Army Gym and offers awards to the first-, second- and third-place finishers for runners in each age group, as well as the overall winners and first-place finishers in all age groups for walking. All proceeds raised at the event will benefit the Anew Center.

According to Stacey Tanner, program director of the Salvation Army Anew Center, the building opened on Christmas Eve in 1985 when a family from the north county was in need of a safe place to stay as a result of domestic violence. The Salvation Army had a building that was originally going to be used as a home for runaway youths, but that Christmas Eve, the family was brought into the home for shelter, and after that the Salvation Army began the process of becoming licensed as a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

“We realized that there wasn’t any place in Chautauqua County for victims of domestic violence,” said Tanner. “Since that day in 1985, we’ve expanded the services that we offer tremendously.”

The Salvation Army Anew Center offers many services, including a 24-hour crisis hotline staffed by real people, case management services for those residing in the shelter as well as those who don’t need the shelter or have already left, and crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy for victims within the court system.

“We’re a 24-hour program, so if someone needs our services in the middle of the night, we have staff trained to respond,” said Tanner.

“We can pick them up to bring them to the shelter. We can send advocates to hospitals to be with them while they’re going through an exam. We can be there for them,” Tanner continued.

The center also offers family outreach programs for children who are victims of abuse, providing group counseling to children and their families. Abuse prevention education programs are taken to local schools, where employees teach students about healthy relationships, warning signs of abuse and more, often spending up to six days with the same group of kids to ensure that they understand the information.

Tanner said that when the 5K run and walk was first created, it was held in April in order to coordinate with Sexual Abuse Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, but in recent years it was moved to June.

“We had several requests to move it back to April from our participants,” said Tanner. “We’re part of the Chautauqua Striders ‘Runner of the Year’ series, too. There are around 10 races this year that are participating in the program. Runners and walkers that participate in the events earn points, and then Chautauqua Striders award the ‘Runner of the Year’ after the races for the season are over, usually in February of the following year. We’re the second run that’s part of this series this year, so it worked out really nicely for us to do this in April.”

The race generally raises around $3,000 for the Anew Center, said Tanner, but there are also many expenses that go into coordinating the event, including the cost to hire police officers to help with traffic control and having T-shirts printed. Prizes are also offered to competitors.

“Last year, the participant that raised the highest amount of pledges was allowed to select from the prizes we offered, and they chose a chair donated by Fancher Furniture,” said Tanner. “We have businesses that donate gift cards, too, and we end up raffling those off to participants. We’ll draw a person’s bib number and give those away as prizes.”

The Anew Center also puts together a clothesline project every year for the race.

“The clothesline project is made up of T-shirts that victims and survivors have created, so as participants are coming in, we’re trying to educate on the effects of domestic violence in our community,” said Tanner.

Participants can register up to the day of the race, with registration fees being $20 prior to the event and $25 on the day of the 5K, and the Anew Center is also looking for volunteers to help out before, during and after the race.

“Even if someone doesn’t want to walk, there are still ways that they can help out,” said Tanner. “This event is really for everyone. You don’t need to be a competitive runner or walker. Domestic violence is something that crosses all ages, genders and socio-economic statuses. It can range from physical abuse to emotional abuse and more. Chautauqua County is certainly not exempt from it, but the Anew Center aims to help end it.

For more information about the Anew Center or the event, call 661-3897. For 24-hour hotline assistance, call 1-800-252-8748. Participants can register in person or online at www.active.com.