OPCC — In honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, fashion brand GUESS is rolling out a special edition T-shirt that will benefit Sojourn Services for Battered Women and their Children, a project spearheaded by OPCC.
The graphic shirt, $24, will debut Oct. 14 at a launch party at GUESS’ Hollywood and Highland store, which will be co-hosted by actress Vanessa Marcil and fitness guru Jillian Michaels.
“The primary objective is to get the word out, and so people have more awareness resources in the community through Sojourn,” said McKinley Williams, development director for OPCC.
Ella Marciano, 16-year-old daughter of GUESS CEO Paul Marciano, chose the words “hope,” “love,” “courage,” “strength,” “community” and “empower” that create a heart shape on the front of the shirt in purple, which is the official color of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“I thought a heart would be perfect because it symbolizes love, which is such a powerful word,” Ella said.
All profits will benefit Sojourn, helping mitigate the effects of severe state funding cuts. Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed $250,000 designated for battered women programs, Williams said.
“Finally after much negotiation, they reinstated about 80 percent …. Now, with the current budget, it looks like we’re facing a similar situation,” Williams said. “We are doing everything we can so that we have other sources of revenue.”
The idea for the shirt was spawned when Marcil, a Sojourn supporter, introduced her friend Kymberly Marciano-Strauss, Ella’s mother, to the organization.
“My main [philanthropic] focus is usually on children, but this summer I said to my daughter, ‘I think we have an opportunity here to make a difference,’” said Marciano-Strauss, who chose Sojourn after a tour of the facilities and a few meetings with OPCC executives.
“Once she told me about it, I wanted to do something to make a difference,” Ella said.
This past summer, Ella, who was interning in the public relations and marketing department at GUESS, worked with designers to choose words that would reflect the issue.
The shirt will be sold at select California and Las Vegas GUESS retail locations.
Sojourn, named after the African-American and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth, was created by OPCC in 1977 to serve the battered women of Santa Monica. It is the second oldest women’s shelter in Southern California.
“Most of what we strive to do — in addition to providing the direct services to battered women and their children — is to create awareness for the issue,” Williams said. “The more people we are able to reach, the more people we will be able to help.”
The program was originally run completely by volunteers. Currently, 16 full-time staff members manage various social services, including its shelters, case management services, a 24-hour hotline, support groups, and legal aid.