I was fortunate enough to be able to walk the walk (talk the talk?) and volunteer for the Chocolate Walk in downtown Harrisonburg. After eating six of the fifteen pieces that I had obtained from the stations, I was fully energized to hand out vegan brownies at the Artful Dodger. Despite some rainfall and a sugar crash, this event was one of the most fun and enlightening experiences I had this semester.
The experience was fun because those who attended were able to walk the streets of Harrisonburg, explore local businesses, eat delectably, and support a great cause. There was live music, a beautiful breeze, and a disposition of happiness. Many attendees were interested in the Collins Center, what it does, and how the money would be distributed to help their missions, while otherwise they may not have known of its existence. Many strangers would strike up conversation with each other about the food or location, while in other situations, they most likely would have been a passerby.
Humans are meant to be relational beings, so it was wonderful to see people so open to help, talk, laugh, and love during that evening. It was truly special. The experience was enlightening because sexual violence is a topic that many people choose not to discuss. It’s abrasive, it’s uncomfortable, yet it is far too prevalent in our society. Not only does the Collins Center do amazing work to break down the walls of victim blaming and abuse, they put in effort to build bridges of advocacy for survivors and those struggling with mental health. To bring a voice to those who are silenced, hurting, and healing is a cause that is always worth supporting. Luckily, our community of Harrisonburg was committed to providing that support, and people filled streets and stores in hopes of an end to sexual violence.
I plan to carry this experience with me as I continue to promote positive change in the areas of sexual violence and mental health, and I am grateful that the Chocolate Walk is now a part of my story. While the chocolate was absolutely delicious, nothing was sweeter than seeing people of all ages and backgrounds come into the community to mend God’s creation.
Written by: Alyssa Skelly (a dear friend within the RISE community)