Interview with a Paint It Purple Beneficiary Agency: YWCA Pierce County

The goal of all Paint It Purple cupcake bake sales and fundraising parties is to raise money and awareness of agencies working to end VAW in their local communties. In 2012, we have four beneficiaries, each of whom we interviewed to learn more about the work they do. Today’s interview features Vanessa Darrah, Marketing Coordinator of the YWCA Pierce County in Tacoma, Washington.

Established in 1906, the YWCA Pierce County has devoted over a century to creating opportunity and safety for women and children in the the Pierce County community. A forerunner in the domestic violence service provision field, the YWCA established Washington state’s first domestic violence shelter in 1976. Comprehensive domestic violence services that target prevention and intervention include: free legal services, therapeutic services, support groups, transitional housing, trainings, teen dating violence prevention, and more.

Tell us about YWCA Pierce County and the work that you do to stop violence against women.

The YWCA Pierce County provides comprehensive domestic violence prevention and intervention services to our community. As our shelter provides safety for our clients in an individual apartment setting, we are one of very few shelters that accept male and female victims. Along with emergency shelter, we provide: legal advocacy services, group and individual therapies, after-school programs for the children of our clients, a 24-hour crisis hotline and on-call advocate, education and information outreach programs, training and seminars. We also participate in community outreach events to create visibility and awareness of our services.

What are the unique challenges of working to stop violence against women (including domestic violence) in your community/area?

I feel that as an organisation that provides domestic violence services, we create the uncomfortable dialogue addressing intimate partner violence that needs to occur in our communities. Working to raise awareness and funds causes us to have people think and talk about an issue that goes largely ignored and hidden. Though domestic violence touches all of our lives, our society condones it through silence. Our goal is to break the silence and create visibility of an insidious problem that needs to be addressed in order to be eliminated.

Tell us about some of your successful efforts and campaigns over the years and how they work to prevent/intervene/stop violence against women in your community area.

In recent years, YWCA Pierce County has taken on two very large Capital Campaigns in order to renovate our nearly 100-year-old building and provide apartment-style living for our shelter clients, as it was apparent that communal living in a time of crisis adds unwarranted stress. We have recently completed two campaigns: The Wilsonian Campaign which provided us our new shelter, and the Encore Campaign which renovated the old shelter floors into beautiful new spaces for our children’s program and legal services. It has been quite an endeavour, but our clients deserve a beautiful space that ensures safety and healing.

The YWCA Pierce County strives to be a visible presence in our community: we have created PSAs that were broadcast on local television stations; we have a large banner that provides information about our services that is located in a very heavily trafficked area of Tacoma; we provide informational DV 101 workshops to local companies and schools; and we are a constant presence at community events through our outreach program.

Why did YWCA Pierce County decide to take part in “Paint It Purple” this year?

I had heard about Paint It Purple last year through The Pixel Project’s website and Facebook page. I knew that our organisation would be a good fit and this would be a simple and fun way to involve our community in raising awareness as well as funds.

How do we encourage people to take an interest in and step up to help stop violence against women and what sort of help does YWCA Pierce County need to keep your efforts going?

A large part of raising awareness and inspiring people to stand up and take action against VAW is conducting fundraisers like Paint It Purple. Matching something lighthearted with a cause that is disturbing but necessary to discuss is a great way to impassion people to stop and think about what they can do in their community to provide others safety.

Enjoying yourself while helping to provide support to those who need it allows the opportunity to become informed while having fun. We strive to involve our community in fundraising events that are tailored to their interests and create an understanding of how they can best support our mission.


The annual “Paint It Purple” campaign raises awareness about Violence Against Women (VAW) by getting a global audience to “paint” the internet purple during the campaign using social media. The campaign also raises funds for The Pixel Project, our partners and participating VAW nonprofits worldwide through cupcake bake sales and “Paint It Purple” parties. For more information, visit


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