EL CENTRO – The Sure Helpline Crisis Center held its annual “Walk a Mile In Her Shoes” men’s march against violence at El Centro Court House Friday. Families, friends and men gathered and wore red high-heeled shoes to walk in awareness of women and children who suffer from sexual abuse and violence.
As participants began to arrive, men lined up to get their pair of iconic red heels provided by the Sure Helpline Crisis Center. Members of the El Centro Fire Academy and the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office attended the march in support of the cause.
“The month of April is the Sexual Assault Awareness month… We’re proud to see all these brave men taking our shoes for a day – it means a lot,” said Johanna Ramirez, an employee of the Sure Helpline Crisis Center.
With a spirited atmosphere, the group began to march down Main Street as young women and men walked in their red heels and held posters high in the air.
John Rathman, the Imperial Regional Detention Facility warden, said they work closely with the Sure Helpline Crisis Center to provide much-needed services in the community.
“Hopefully we bring in recognition that there’s an issue out there so we can support our victims and join together to fix it,” said Rathman. “We really want to be involved in the community and we encourage people to seek out and support our local organizations.”
As sunset approached, the crowd reached the end of the march located at El Centro’s Town Square where food and drinks were served and they were entertained by a dance presentation from the Calexico Lady Dancers.
The area was filled with booths from local organizations, including Alba Care services, a Center for Family Solutions, Children and Parents Council, Migrant Education program, the Imperial Valley Food Bank, and the LGBT Resource Center. The agencies also provided pamphlets about their services.
The Sure Helpline Crisis Center is the only sexual assault awareness agency in the Imperial Valley that deals with any kind of crisis and victims of any age. Sure Helpline provides a 24-hour service at no cost to the community and are always welcoming volunteers.
“Currently, we have 11 employees and we plan to double that in the future,” said Margaret Souza, executive director of Sure Helpline Crisis Center. “In order to do this job, where we need to take victims to the hospitals or accompany them to court, you need to have a passion to do it. As for now, we’ve been accepted in every school in the Imperial County and we’re hand-in-hand with the Sheriff and police departments to teach them the protocols on what to do in a case of abuse or violence.”
“We want the community to know they don’t have to stay in silence,” she said. “At my 70 years of age, I’ve seen ladies who suffer with every type of abuse and they carry it for years, never seeking help. When we help someone, that’s when you know you’re doing something good.”