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Our Voice Hosts 50th Birthday Celebration, Fundraiser

Our Voice, Buncombe County’s anti-sexual violence and anti-human trafficking agency, is hosting a birthday celebration and fundraiser to commemorate 50 years of resilience, empowerment, and advocacy in our community.  The event will be held Saturday, April 27, from 6-9 p.m., at Plēb Urban Winery.

During the celebration, guests will have the opportunity to hear from key figures from Our Voice’s history, indulge in delicious food and drinks, and dance to the cool rhythms of the Free Flow Band .

“We are beyond excited for this Golden anniversary, as it’s an impressive milestone for any non-profit organization,” says Our VOICE executive Director Rita Sneider-Cotter. “It’s especially important to us because it marks 50 years of having resources in place to support survivors and working to prevent future acts of sexual violence.”

Our Voice serves survivors of sexual violence and human trafficking, ages 13 through adult, in Buncombe County. The agency was founded in 1974 as an all-volunteer grassroots organization and remained underground until August 1983, when Our Voice received 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit agency and the first employee was hired. In 2016, the organization added human trafficking to its mission.

Now, 50 years and considerable growth later, Our Voice employs more than a dozen paid staff, has a dedicated board of directors, and many individuals and groups who contribute to the cause.

Celebrating Our Voice’s Programs:

  • Our Voice has maintained a 24-hour crisis line since our inception in 1974.
  • Our Voice provides free one-on-one counseling sessions addressing trauma, while promoting healing and personal empowerment.
  • We have a bi-lingual bi-cultural counselor who serves Spanish-speaking survivors across WNC.
  • Our crisis advocates act as a bridge to medical, legal, and social service systems for survivors. We provide ongoing support through court advocacy, ensuring no one is left to navigate the legal system alone.
  • Our Voice offers a variety of innovative educational programs that are evidence-informed and based in current best practices for maximum impact to a range of populations.
  • For the past 8 years, Our Voice has partnered with local breweries and bars in the month of April to raise funds and bring more attention to National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Understanding Challenges Ahead
While the organization has grown and evolved, so have the systemic challenges facing all survivors. Issues like housing, transportation, poverty, inflation, addiction, mental health, racism, access and affordability of healthcare, and more have amplified and made this work even more challenging.

“As we look ahead, the work does not get easier, but the need continues,” Sneider-Cotter said. “Ending sexual violence and trafficking is a community effort and the more people who are aware of these issues and who want to make a difference, the better.”

In addition, declining federal and state funding through VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) and VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) has also created fiscal gaps for the organization to overcome. This fundraising event and birthday party mark an opportunity for anyone to get involved and have a good time with delicious food, dancing, and community connections.

“Asheville has always offered overwhelming support for our work, and we are so grateful for that generosity,” Sneider-Cotter said. “We look forward to celebrating with everyone who has made this work possible.”

Tickets for the event are $75 per person, and $125 per pair and can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ourvoices50thbirthdaypartytickets823836034757

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