BERKELEY SPRINGS, W. Va. (WDVM) — Belly dancers took to the streets around the world and even in Berkeley Springs to raise awareness and funds for a very important cause.
The Shimmy Mob is a worldwide event that happens on World Belly Dance Day, usually the second Saturday of May. The global belly dance flash mob is held to raise awareness for survivors and victims of domestic violence and abuse.
Angela Petry has been leading the Morgan County Shimmy Mob team for 9 years. She explained the dance choreography and the music, are organized by the Shimmy Mob organization.
“So every year, teams all over the world come out and dance, and the whole purpose is to create awareness and fundraising around the issue of domestic violence,” Petry explained.
The funds raised from the Berkeley Springs Shimmy Mob are donated to Stepping Stones to a Brighter Future and the issue of domestic violence resonates with one dancer and members of the community.
Dalene Middlekauff has been belly dancing for 11 years. She originally began belly dancing as a way to try a new form of exercise but ended up falling in love with the dance style. As a survivor of domestic violence, Middlekauff wants to support others who share her experiences.
“This happened to me when I was a child. It means a lot to be able to do something that I love and to raise money and awareness for people in surviving domestic violence,” Middlekauff said.
Julie Vogel has attended Shimmy Mob every year. She is a survivor of domestic violence and hopes the flash mob can shed light on the devastating issue.
“Just recently, a very dear friend of mine was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend. She had been in a domestic violence situation,” Vogel said. “She was doing her best to get away from the whole thing and unfortunately, she wasn’t successful and he shot and killed her just like that.”
Vogel says she was lucky to escape her abusive situation but knows others aren’t as lucky. She stressed that victims are not alone and there are survivors and agencies who want to help them.
Stepping Stones to a Brighter Future provides resources and funds to victims of domestic violence in Morgan County. Rose Jackson is a survivor of domestic violence and the president of Stepping Stones to a Brighter Future. She explained the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented the organization from holding any kind of fundraising event.
“We are just a small nonprofit agency in the area that all of our funds come from fundraisers,” Jackson said. “The more funds we raise and the more awareness we raise on domestic violence, the more we can help people that we get our name out there that, ‘Yes we are here to help you.'”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
For more information on provided by Stepping Stones to a Brighter Future, please visit their website.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline which is (800)-799-SAFE or (800)-799-7233.