Greenville birthday party to benefit battered women

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 11:53 am on Thursday, July 10, 2014

GREENVILLE — If you see enough bad over the course of a few years, you really begin to appreciate the good things in life: a loving family, healthy children, emotional stability.

This Saturday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Transitions Counseling Services in Greenville, outpatient therapist Sue Ellen Pabst — who has heard more than her share of domestic violence horror stories — plans to celebrate all the good things in her own life with a public birthday party … a really big birthday party, to which the entire community is invited.

For the past 10 years, Pabst has counseled battered and abused women for RAVE (Relief After Violent Encounters) of Ionia/Montcalm, an organization dedicated to helping women that have experienced domestic, or other violence.

Pabst’s birthday party is intended as a fundraiser for the RAVE program.

“I work with victims of domestic violence,” Pabst said. “There are different types of victims, but when you’re dealing with physical control, that’s the ultimate. I have a passion for helping women and children get out of very difficult circumstances.”

Each year, Pabst hosts some sort of fundraiser for RAVE, but this is the first time that effort has taken the form of a birthday party. She admits the effort is, in her words, “a bit arrogant,” but it’s really not to be taken too seriously, even though the fundraising aspect of it — and the purposes to which those funds will be allocated — is about as serious as it gets.

Also, Pabst says she is serious about the fact that her life, particularly when compared with the battered women she often counsels, is very fine indeed.

“I just want to celebrate my life,” she said. “I have a wonderful relationship with both my family and my friends. I know it sounds so corny, but I’m grateful to be alive at this point in time.”

Hosting the annual fundraisers, Pabst admits, garners a lot of “atta girls” and positive attention. Though appreciated, that’s not why she puts forth the effort each year. She does it because of the aforementioned horror stories, and the occasional happy endings RAVE helps facilitate.

Suzy Raven, co-owner of The Meat Shack in Greenville and one of the many area business owners contributing merchandise or cash to the fundraiser, is taking part because of the good work RAVE does locally.

“They provide an important and worthwhile service to our community,” Raven said.   “I know there are a lot of women out there who really need help. We have all been hit so hard (financially) in so many ways.”

As to the party itself, Pabst has several activities planned. A DJ music and dancing tent, several different games for adults and kids alike, and plenty of food are all on the agenda. Admission to the family friendly event is free, however, tickets (priced at just 25 cents) will be sold for games and food purchases. Prizes will be awarded in the games.

A character sketch artist also will be on hand for impromptu portraits and a jewelry sale — stocked with donated jewelry — also will be held.

“What we’re doing is trying to promote healthy relationships,” Pabst said. “This will be just good, simple fun, rain or shine. I can dance just as badly in the rain as I can in the sunshine.”

For more information, call (616) 754-9420.

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