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Local Nonprofit supports Domestic Violence Awareness Month with Chili Cook-Off
NOA to host event with all-you-can-eat chili and toppings, free concert
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In the United States, one in three women has been physically abused by an intimate partner, according to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


No One Alone, or NOA, a local non-profit domestic violence shelter that provides free and confidential services to women and children, is sponsoring several events in Lumpkin and Dawson counties through October to bring awareness to the problem.


"People don't want to talk about these kinds of issues," said NOA Chairman Dr. Mark Helvie. "Domestic violence is the kind of thing that you never think will happen to you or affect you, but the person two houses down from you may be experiencing it and you have no idea. We really just use this month to bring awareness to a subject people don't want to think about."


Because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, NOA is hosting a Chili Cook-Off fundraiser on Saturday Oct. 8 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Proceeds will help NOA prevent incidences of domestic violence and provide aid to its victims.


The event will be held in St. Luke's Catholic Church in Dahlonega. Across the street at Hancock Park, local musicians Firefly, Belle Gray and South Rock will perform a free concert.


Participants can compete for prizes including best professional chili, best vegetarian chili, best decorated table and first, second and third place taster's choice.


Those who do not want to be a contestant can pay admission for the all-you-can-eat chili lunch, which includes chili toppings, cornbread, a drink and banana pudding. Lunch will cost $10 for adults, $5 for kids ages 12 and under and free for kids ages 5 and under. Families will pay a maximum of $25.


There will be a raffle, and NOA's thrift store Southern Finds will be selling clothing, furniture and other home goods. Contestants can find the rules and cook-off form at noonealone.org.
Helvie, who is a veterinarian in Dahlonega, said that they are hoping 150 to 200 people will attend, which would generate $2,000 in ticket sales.


"Overall, $2,500 would be wonderful for our organization," Helvie said. "We have to match the money we get from some federal grants dollar for dollar, so this helps us put money in our general fund for that. It's also a great community awareness campaign, and helps with direct client services, like helping women get interview outfits, or find an apartment or put people on the crisis line."


Also in October, area restaurants are asked to bring awareness of domestic violence by holding "Dining For A Difference" nights, in which they will offer 10 percent of their sales to NOA to help them prevent domestic violence. LongHorn Steakhouse is participating and will be holding their percentage night on Oct. 12.


Several Dahlonega restaurants will also be participating. Restaurants that have participated in the past include Shenanigan's Restaurant and Irish Pub, Moe's Southwest Grill and Zaxby's.
Helvie said that this year, the "Dining for a Difference" event will be extended into November and December as well.


Dawsonville restaurants that wish to participate can contact Jean Baker at (706) 372-4260 to sign up.


Though October is a time when NOA stresses the importance of educating people about domestic violence, NOA aids victims year round by providing a multitude of services.


"In 2015 we helped 1,100 people, whether through the crisis hotline or through giving them legal aid or shelter, or any of our other services," Helvie said. "Before NOA, there was a domestic violence murder every year, but there hasn't been a single one in Lumpkin County in the past five years."


In addition to their 24 hour crisis phone line and emergency housing, NOA has trauma counseling for women and children, legal advocates to help women gain custody or restraining orders, children's programs, school programs and a shop called Southern Finds, where women from the shelter can go and use vouchers to purchase clothes, shoes, towels, dishes and other items.


Helvie also said that NOA is glad to accept donations from the community, whether the donations be monetary or physical goods, like furniture and home goods, clothes, toiletries, cleaning supplies, detergent and new toys for children.


"People can donate home goods and furniture to the Southern Finds store, and the money NOA gets from selling the goods goes directly to help victims of domestic violence," Helvie said.

"Furniture is one of our biggest sellers; we love it when people bring in furniture."


Lists of what is needed can be found on NOA's website at noonealone.org, and money can be donated online or by check to P.O. Box 685, Dahlonega, GA 30533.