Sipping a latte, purchasing jewelry or taking a yoga class seem unlikely ways to address community problems. But when concerned business owners dedicate their resources to a cause, it can all be part of a solution.
This evening, Mesa's merchants will put their skills and wares to work in the struggle against domestic violence. Cup o' Karma for a Cause at Inside the Bungalow combines live music from the Zen Monkeys and violinist Scott Tran, with locally made delicacies.
"Nine restaurants are participating, so we'll have free food and beverage samples," says coordinator Christy Moore. "We'll also have a silent auction, with items valued up to $15,000." The evening promises a little something for everyone - from high-end art to $5 chair massages.
Yoga and martial arts demonstrations will hold court near sketch artists, face-painting and coloring contests. Money raised will benefit three local agencies that help battered and abused women.
"It's a problem in every community," says Inside the Bungalow's Carrie Hensley. "It's alarming when you see what the statistics are." The pervasiveness of domestic violence - and the psychological, social and community problems it spawns - became apparent to Hensley when Moore, assistant director of the National Advocacy and Training Network, took a yoga class at Inside the Bungalow.
"I didn't realize, for example, how domestic abuse and drug addiction go hand in hand," Hensley says. "Or that domestic violence calls are the No. 1 cause of death for police officers. So, we see this as a great opportunity to give back, and to let women in these situations know their community really does care."
Cup o' Karma's proceeds will treat different phases of the problem. The National Advocacy and Training Network's transitional shelter will receive funding to shelter women and children who have fled an abusive home.
The Mesa Police Department's Center Against Family Violence will receive money toward the purchase of a video relay system that allows victims to testify against their abuser from a remote location. Fix the Hurt, a nonprofit founded by parents who lost a daughter to domestic violence, will get funding for high school presentations designed to increase awareness.
"Another $2,000 will go toward college scholarships for four women who are former victims of domestic violence," Moore adds. "The scholarships will be awarded at the event."
Hensley says that Cup o' Karma is one-stop shopping for those looking to spend an enjoyable evening, support the community and find out what downtown Mesa is really about. "We've had a great outpouring of donations and assistance from the local businesses," she says. "It shows that, even in tough times, people are willing to come together for an amazing cause."