Cooking event puts focus on domestic violence

October 08, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

Billie Davenport says an emergency protective order comes in two flavors: no contact and no violent contact.

As associate legal advocate for the YWCA Spouse Abuse Center, he knows a lot about the ins and outs of the court system and how it pertains to domestic violence.

As the son of a woman who believed that her son should know his way around the kitchen as well as her daughter, he also knows a lot about cooking.

The two topics will come together in "Cooking for Awareness," an event organized by Safe Connections, the local YWCA Spouse Abuse Center. It will be held 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 16 at Trinity Episcopal Church, 320 W. Main Street.


Davenport will be one of about 90 people expected to participate. Others include judges, courthouse workers and downtown businessmen.

Davenport probably will bring a spinach dip in a bread bowl. It's been an old standby for him.

"As a single guy I was getting invited to parties, so the hostess invariably would say, 'Oh, a guy. Bring a dip.'"

A salad and a cheese plate will be the contributions of Kittie Thomas, who has worked with the YWCA Spouse Abuse Center satellite office in Danville for 10 years and is outreach program coordinator. There will be a variety of food, she says.

"We're going to do a five-course meal - meat, vegetable, fruits, salad - all of it."

She and co-worker Laurent Houekpon came up with the idea as a way to publicize Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Houekpon loves to cook and in an Advocate article about his cooking, he explained that while cooking he thinks about ideas for the housing program for victims of domestic violence. The event is a way for others to enjoy good food and ponder the topic as well.

"We just thought that's something different we could do for domestic violence awareness month," says Thomas.

For the past couple of years, Domestic Violence Awareness Month has been celebrated with a gathering at the courthouse. Last year's theme was "Victims from domestic violence come from all walks of life." Shoes were places around Weisiger Park as symbols.

169 EPOs since Jan. 1

Flags also were placed on the courthouse lawn to represent how many people have filed for emergency protective orders in Boyle County. This year, there would have been 169 flags to represent the EPOs requested since Jan. 1.

The event at the Episcopal church will feature information about the topic that people can pick up.

There will be a booth about the rape crisis center and there will be representatives of Voices and Choices, a group formed to teach its participants about local government. You Matter, composed of residents of Heather Hills, will be there.

"We are trying to show them that they matter," says Houekpon.

Heather Hills was becoming known as a trouble spot, but this group hopes to change that situation, he says.

"The little gang stuff and problems they are seeing, once they organize, they start backing off because they don't like organization."

Cooking for Awareness will promote a feeling among domestic violence victims that the community will support them.

"It will show them that other than the classic caregivers there are people in the community who care," Houekpon says.

Davenport, who has been a lawyer for 16 years, has worked in his present capacity for 2 1/2 years. He represents six counties, and part of his job is to show up before court dates to offer his assistance in the courtroom.

"A lot of times victims have never been in court before. They have no idea what's about to happen," Davenport says.

He tries to counsel them and has come to love his job because he hopes to change lives by helping victims escape their situations.

"It's not about violence. It's about power and control. It's about stripping away self-esteem and making someone a slave or a punching bag."

Davenport will be one of the more experienced men in the kitchen at this event. With his dip recipe, he recommends that it be made 24 hours ahead of time.

"Letting it sit allows the spices in the soup to meld together."

Houekpon says some of the participants were a little hesitant to come to Cooking for Awareness because they don't consider themselves great chefs, but he says that's not the point.

"This event is going to be fun, funky and clumsy and the food is going to be great," he says. "It's OK if they break an egg."

Spinach Dip

10-ounce package frozen, chopped spinach

1 package Knorr's vegetable soup mix

8-ounce jar Kraft mayonnaise

8-ounce package sour cream

1 can water chestnuts

Thaw spinach in refrigerator. Pat dry. If short on time, put in colander and run cold water over it.

Mix mayonnaise, sour cream and vegetable soup mix together. Chop up water chestnuts to desired consistency. Mix with other ingredients. Add spinach and mix thoroughly. Let sit for 24 hours.

Bread bowl: Choose round loaf and cut out center. Slice inch-thick piece off bottom. Set the loaf back on the bottom. Before placing dip inside, slice all the way around the loaf so those slices may be used later with dip. Cut cubes of bread for dipping from the center that was removed from the loaf.

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