Motorists may notice something just a little out of the ordinary when passing by Cummins Seymour Technical Center on the east side of the city the rest of this month.
Fifty-three decorated T-shirts waving in the wind were hung with care Wednesday for the Clothesline Project.
Using words and artwork, each shirt was decorated in honor of a Hoosier life lost as a result of domestic violence from July 2015 through July 2016. The list of victims, none from Jackson County, is compiled by the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
This makes the fourth year Cummins has teamed up with Turning Point Domestic Violence Services for the Clothesline Project at the Seymour plant. Last year, there were 55 shirts decorated and hung on the line.
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Candace Foist is employed as lab operations materials manager at Cummins Seymour Engine Plant and also is a Cummins Community Involvement Team member, serving as the Turning Point liaison.
“Turning Point is an organization that I am very passionate about,” Foist said. “Back in 2014, Brenda Hardesty, our SEP Community Involvement leader at the time, asked me if I would like to represent SEP as a Turning Point liaison. I graciously accepted the offer.”
The first Clothesline Project at the Cummins plant was in 2013, led by Hardesty. This is now the third consecutive year that Foist has led the October event.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and is represented by the color purple.
To get more Cummins employees involved with domestic violence awareness, purple was incorporated into some fundraisers.
“We had a couple of fundraisers this year, with one being that purple bandanas were sold,” Foist said. “The second was for employees to be able to dress down in jeans and encouraging them to wear purple.”
Cummins employees were able to raise $300 with all of the proceeds going to Turning Point.
Charlotte Moss, community services director for Jackson County for Turning Point, was on hand at Wednesday’s ceremony to accept the monetary gift.
Moss has served in Jackson County for nearly four years in her current position. She gained experience with the Clothesline Project while attending Harrison College in Columbus.
“When I began working with Turning Point in Jackson County, I mentioned the project to Cummins,” Moss said. “They were happy to take it on.”
Moss was accompanied at the observance by several members of the Turning Point agency. That included Jackson County case manager Carissa Miller and Latina case manager Magda Posadas.
There also was an awards presentation where two plaques were distributed.
The first was given to Cummins Seymour Engine Plant manager Darren Wildman, who received the Mission Partner Award from Moss.
The second was the Community Partner Award, which was presented to Robert Hooker, superintendent of Seymour Community Schools.
“Community involvement and community commitment are the only way we’re ever going to solve this issue,” Lisa Shafran said.
Shafran, president of Turning Point Domestic Violence Services, thanked the community for all that is being done to bring awareness to the fact that domestic violent certainly exists.
“You know that better than anyone else based on what’s happened in your community recently,” she said. “It’s a visible indication that we all have to come together as a community and work together to prevent that.”
On Oct. 5, a Seymour woman, Brandi Jo Jackson, 42, shot and killed her husband, Jason K. Jackson, 42, before killing herself.
Employees from Cummins lined up to hang the T-shirts one by one as Foist and co-worker Emily Surenkamp read the names of each victim.
“I started helping with the Clothesline Project because Candace is a good friend,” Surenkamp said. “But as we’ve done this event more, it has been a great way to bring awareness. It is obviously an issue, and I know I wouldn’t want my family or friends to go through anything like that, so I want to bring awareness.”
After the names were read, Foist called for a moment of silence to honor all of the victims.
Erin, a community member, was at the event to share her story. She survived an abusive marriage with her ex-husband and advised the listeners.
“If you see or hear red flags in your life or in other people’s lives, even if you think it’s nothing, please open your eyes,” Erin said. “Please care, please understand, because it’s not always who you think it’s going to be.”
Seymour Police Chief Bill Abbott was present at the Clothesline Project. He recalled that on June 2, 1990, he had been out of the police academy for three months when he was involved in his first homicide as a police officer.
The homicide was an act of domestic violence, and the husband had killed his wife. So it has been a part of his career from day one.
“Unfortunately, like drugs, you’re not going to eliminate it, but the best thing to do is to keep awareness up and in the public eye, like Cummins and Turning Point are doing,” Abbott said. “Letting people know there are programs out there that offer assistance could hopefully prevent a tragedy.”
Shafran expressed her gratitude for what Cummins is doing and for hosting the Clothesline Project at its facility. She also thanked Seymour Community Schools for allowing Turning Point representatives to come in and talk to young people. Finally, local law enforcement and first-responding officers were thanked.
It’s estimated that one in every four women and one in seven men will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetime.
Even though an estimated 12 million people are victims of domestic violence each year, most cases go unreported to law enforcement.
While 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women, it’s important for all people to know how to help someone in an abusive relationship or situation find help.
By the numbers
Jackson County Sheriff’s Department
Seymour Police Department
Year;Domestic battery calls;Arrests
*January to September