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A New Direction Hosts Annual Fundraiser for Victims of Domestic Violence

By Howard Ludwig | October 16, 2015 6:02am
 A New Direction will host its annual fundraiser at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Ridge Country Club in Beverly.
A New Direction will host its annual fundraiser at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Ridge Country Club in Beverly.
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BEVERLY — Jessica McCarihan of Beverly still remembers the phone call she received from her friend who was crying after her boyfriend left bruises in the shape of fingers on her neck.

Two years later, McCarihan helped launch A New Direction in Beverly. The crisis counseling center for victims of domestic abuse will have a fundraiser at 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at Ridge Country Club.

McCarihan, president of the center's board, hopes the fifth-annual event at 10522 S. California Ave. will raise upward of $75,000. The gala is the main source of funding for A New Direction.

"I never dreamed I would ever see a friend so scared and sad and in such pain. It was that day I vowed to do something to help women, like my friend, ... who are victims of domestic violence," she explained on the group's website.

A New Direction opened in 2011. The counseling center provides education and legal advocacy for victims of domestic violence — mostly to women and children. About 90 percent of the clients are Beverly-area residents, McCarihan said.

"We don't turn anyone away," said McCarihan, who also raises money for the counseling center with the annual Work Out to Wipe Out Domestic Violence event.

McCarihan started the group with the help of Rita Ryan, who previously worked with victims of domestic violence for nearly three decades in Beverly before her advocacy center shut down in 2008.

Ryan, also a Beverly resident, teamed with McCarihan to ensure that such services remained in the neighborhood. This partnership remains at the center of A New Direction, which operates from an undisclosed location in Beverly.

"People think that it only happens in poor neighborhoods or because of alcoholism. There are so many misconceptions with domestic violence," McCarihan said.

She wouldn't provide local statistics for confidentiality reasons. But McCarihan cited several figures from Chicago Says No More, a city-wide campaign aimed at spreading awareness about domestic violence and bringing an end to the epidemic.

• 1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men experience violence by their partners in their lifetimes.

• 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are sexually abused before age 18.

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men are survivors of rape.

• 1 in 15 children are exposed to domestic violence every year. Ninety percent of these children are eyewitnesses to the abuse.

"So much of it goes unreported. What you are seeing is a fraction of what is happening," McCarihan said.

It costs $75 to attend the annual gala. A live auction will also be held at the event for an opportunity to work in the kitchen at Graham Elliot Bistro in West Town. The prize comes courtesy of celebrity chef Elliot, who lives in Morgan Park.

The winner will later return to the restaurant to dine with three friends on a special tasting menu with wine pairings custom crafted by the judge from Fox's "MasterChef" and "MasterChef Junior."

The fundraiser will also have a grand raffle for a chance to win airfare and three nights/four
days at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in the Las Vegas, two round trip tickets aboard Southwest Airlines to fly anywhere in the continental United States and an Apple iWatch.

For more information, visit A New Direction's website or call 773-253-7226.

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