Motorists may notice something out of the ordinary when passing by Cummins Seymour Engine Plant on East Fourth Street Road the rest of this month.
There are 94 decorated T-shirts waving in the wind on a makeshift clothesline along the sidewalk in front of the building as part of the Clothesline Project last Friday.
Turning Point Domestic Violence Services and Cummins SEP are collaborating again this year for the project in coordination with October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Cummins employees, city officials, law enforcement officers, members of Turning Point, representatives of Centra Credit Union and other community members hung the T-shirts with care.
The majority of the shirts were decorated by 78 SEP Cummins employees, and the rest were made by Centra employees.
Using words and artwork, each shirt was decorated in honor of domestic violence victims in Indiana over the past year. The list of victims is compiled annually by the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
The purpose of the project is to increase awareness of the impact of violence and abuse, honor a survivor’s strength to continue and provide another avenue for them to courageously break the silence that often surrounds their experience.
Candace Foist is a member of the Cummins Community Involvement Team and serves as a liaison between the company and Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, which has an office in Jackson County.
This was Foist’s eighth year to lead the Clothesline Project and the ninth year Cummins has participated.
“Our volunteers at Cummins this year did 94 shirts, which is incredible, and we had 78 different volunteers who all participated,” Foist said. “So even though they’re not all out here, there are 78 more people that are aware of the Clothesline Project, know what it is and are helping with the awareness of domestic violence.”
Charlotte Moss, a Turning Point representative and Teens for Change adult adviser, attended the event. Teens for Change is a program designed to teach students about the importance of healthy relationships, leadership and more.
Moss announced the winners of three awards given to people who support the Turning Point organization.
“One of our award winners is Emily James, program director for the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, who is receiving the 2022 Community Partner Award,” Moss said. “Emily and I discussed collaborating on an after-school event, and that grew into an after-school club. We discovered our collaboration on these events could benefit both our agencies.”
Moss said she was particularly impressed with James’ motivation to know the people with which she planned to work.
“She signed up to be a volunteer at Teens for Change meetings and to participate on our Jackson County coalition,” she said. “Teens for Change attended a recent college readiness program hosted by the Boys and Girls Club, and last week, the after-school club, Tweens for Change, designed shirts and put up their own clothesline display.”
Moss then announced Seymour Parks and Recreation Department Director Stacy Findley as the recipient of the Mission Partner Award for 2022.
“Teens for Change began talking about a project back in 2020, and with Stacy’s guidance, it became a reality this past summer,” Moss said. “She was always willing to discuss staff and teen ideas, she helped when we lacked supplies and manpower and offered suggestions, guidance and support throughout the entire project.”
The last award for Teen Volunteer of the Year went to Keira Linville.
Moss said Keira has been a steady ever-present force in all of their volunteer activities for the past year.
“It was tough coming back from COVID guidelines and jumping back into volunteering,” she said. “Keira has always been willing to step up and attend community events, help with being a teen voice in the public and flashing that smile on command for pictures.”
Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson also was in attendance along with several members of the law enforcement community, including Chief Deputy Dustin Steward and Ben Cramer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and Seymour Police Chief Greg O’Brien.
Nicholson said he knows one of the most dangerous calls an officer can get is to respond to domestic violence.
“Thank you to Cummins for all that you do here and Candace especially, who just said how many employees helped with this,” Nicholson said. “It’s huge that the support is there and it’s growing, and conversation is happening overall.”
He said hopefully, the kids on their way to school and other passersby will take notice this week and look across at the T-shirts and awareness will be raised about domestic violence and why the shirts are there.
Steward said he and his fellow officers are huge advocates of the project, and they will always be supportive of it.
Whittney Loyd, president of Turning Point, said she was at the very first clothesline event in Seymour and was happy the project has continued at Cummins SEP and thinks it’s a great way to raise awareness and educate the community about the disparity of interpersonal violence.
Loyd said it’s unfortunate that over the past decade, Indiana has averaged 55 to 60 deaths from domestic violence annually, according to the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“From June 2020 to July 2021, domestic violence homicides increased by 98%, and we’re not certain what those causes are. It’s definitely multi-faceted,” she said. “But the issue continues to increase, and our services have skyrocketed in all of the counties that we serve, and our shelters have been operating at capacity and have been for over a year now.”
Loyd said this year to date, Turning Point has served more than 870 families, provided more than 4,700 nights of safe shelter and received 961 helpline calls.
“Our prevention team is also very busy, and I know Charlotte (Moss) does a lot of important prevention work here in Jackson County,” Loyd said. “We’ve presented to over 7,000 people in the counties that we serve already in 2022 and are looking for some greater even more exciting programming in 2023 because we know as providers, the only way to stop the problem is to prevent it from starting.”
Turning Point’s mission is to help victims of domestic violence and bring to light the seriousness of the issue and the impact it has on individuals, families and the community.
Fore information about Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, visit turningpointdv.org, and the Turning Point 24-hour helpline is 800-221-6311.