News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

SHE Project raises funds for victims of domestic violence

The SHE Project, 52 pieces of art for sale, returns this month to the art wall at Good Day Café in Sisters to raise funds for Saving Grace, a Central Oregon organization that provides services for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors.

Each of the artworks is designed along a theme of empowering women, with a theme or title that begins with the word “She.” For instance, “She knows her greatest power is her own inner tranquility.” Or, “She flies with her own wings,” which happens to be the Oregon state motto, and “She let the moon restore her softly at night.” Another says, “Take a chance; seize the moment. What are you waiting for?” Many are collages, and nearly every media is represented. Each piece is just $35, all of which is donated to Saving Grace.

Kit Stafford, a textile artist and community activist, coordinates the SHE Project with the help of all the artists who’ve donated.

“The pieces reflect the many facets of what the artists are thinking about in these times, and it’s especially poignant and heartfelt for people in positions of trauma and danger,” Stafford said. “All of us who made something are sending out a lot of love to those women, because the process of making involves your heart and your hands.”

The SHE Project is a significant fundraiser from Sisters. Last year’s SHE Project included an artists’ kickoff, where creators began making their work, and an opening reception for the show, both of which were missing this year. The 2020 event raised around $2,000 for Saving Grace according to Harmony Thomas, owner of Bedouin and Good Day Café. Twenty-five of the 52 items in this year’s show were sold, as of last Friday.

“This year’s show is different, with COVID, but supporters have come in to enjoy the show. There are two raffle items, one being a beautiful Susie Zeitner piece,” Thomas said. “It will be up for the month of January and my goal is for it to inspire, and for people to enjoy the work that local artists have participated in.”

No doubt, SHE will raise her feminine mystique again in 2022.

Saving Grace operates a 24-hour helpline, emergency shelter, and Mary’s Place, a center for supervised visitation and exchange. Additional services include support groups, emergency transportation, court advocacy, respite and child care, professional training, programs for children exposed to domestic violence, community education, therapy, individual crisis counseling, hospital response, information and referral to social services, youth violence prevention and public awareness.

The need for services during the pandemic is greater than ever, said Shannon Ries, the development director for Saving Grace.

“People being housed together without any place to go has really intensified domestic violence in the home,” she said. “We are seeing a lot more people needing resources. Part of that is a need for housing, which is not surprising in Central Oregon. When you are fleeing a violent situation, it’s hard to know where to go next. You have your bags and maybe a kiddo, and you don’t know where to turn.

“Our goal, as we grapple with what we’re seeing, is to continue educational outreach to the community,” Ries said. “There is such a stigma to this kind of violence. People just close their eyes, turn their heads, and don’t want to get involved.”

But thanks to additional funding, “you’ll be seeing more information about what partner violence, sexual assault, and stalking looks like, how you can escape it, and how to take the veil off of it.”

Thanks to COVID funding, they’ve donated $180,000 in services to survivors since March, according to Ries.

“We are the only organization of our kind in all of Central Oregon, and yet we also see people from as far away as Eugene and Klamath Falls,” she said. “We don’t turn anybody away.”

Saving Grace is available to women in Sisters as well as elsewhere.

Pine Mountain Sports in Bend, which rents outdoor sports equipment, raised more than $60,000 for Saving Grace, “an incredible blessing,” said Ries. Also last year, entrepreneurs Aaron Switzer of Central Oregon Gives, and Rys Fairbrother of What If We Could, joined forces to create an online giving program that raised hundreds of thousands for local nonprofits. Saving Grace raised $160,000, the most of any of the organizations, for which they received an additional $15,000.

“Were just going for whatever we can and we’ve really been blessed this year,” Ries said.

If you need the kind of help that Saving Grace provides, call their 24-hour help line at 541-389-7021. Visit the website at


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