One Billion Rising to shine light on domestic, sexual violence

BIG RAPIDS — The time to take a stand against domestic and sexual violence is now and organizers of this year’s One Billion Rising event in Big Rapids are ready to rally the community for the cause.

For the third year, Women’s Information Services, Inc., which covers both Mecosta and Osceola counties, will host a One Billion Rising event, one of thousands of events as part of the global campaign calling for justice and gender equality and for an end to violence. The word “billion” refers to the statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, which equals about one billion women globally.

“We want change,” said Tessa McNally, WISE administrative assistant and chair of the One Billion Rising Committee.. “It’s time for a change and that starts in our communities because if we can’t talk about it as a community, we can’t push for change on a larger scale.”

One Billion Rising will take place on Friday, Feb. 13 at The Gate Entertainment Center, located on Perry Avenue in Big Rapids. A social hour will begin at 5 p.m. and a presentation will start at 6 p.m.

There is no charge to attend the event and the Gate will donate a portion of the proceeds throughout the event to WISE.

“This event’s main goal is awareness, not fundraising, and it’s just a gathering of people coming together for that common goal,” McNally said.

New to this year’s event is the opportunity to hear from a keynote speaker, as well listening to one survivor share her experience with domestic violence, McNally said. This year’s keynote speaker is Jennifer Jordan, Chief Administrative Officer of Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids.

Several female community leaders also will speak. Replacing the lantern sendoff this year is a candlelit moment of silence. WISE will accept donations for candles and wristbands.

“The moment of silence will celebrate and recognize survivors and victims of domestic and sexual violence, along with people who raise awareness and work toward resolving these issues that affect women in our communities,” McNally said.

There also will be live music by Jordan Paul, as well as performances by The Secret Bellydancers of Muskegon, and Master Percussionist Eric Durkee, of Grand Haven.

A big focus of this year’s event will be highlighting the impacts of domestic and sexual violence, and looking at the ways it affects women’s lives rather than simply stating the problem exists, McNally said.

For more information on the event, visit