IDIA hosts first Women's Expo in WP

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Women's Expo July 27

The inaugural Teller County Women's Expo takes off July 27 at the Woodland Park library. Hosted by IDIA, Independent Distributors in Action, the expo is a promotion for the group as well as a benefit for Teller Safe Harbor.

The Teller County Women's Expo, a fundraiser for Safe Harbor, is from 11 a.m.to 3 p.m. July 27 at the Woodland Park library. In the article in the July 17 edition of the Courier, the date was incorrectly reported.

The expo showcases women's home-based businesses that include photography, skin care-products, juices, makeup and jewelry. “We do special events in the community and try to support each other's businesses,” said Deb Idleman, who with Sheena Harper, Jana Lundh, Christian Vilgiate, Valerie Grubb and Donna Coyle, heads up the expo committee. “We chose the nonprofit Safe Harbor because it benefits women.”

A grassroots effort, Safe Harbor was founded nearly 10 years ago by Jan McKamy, Victim Advocate for the Teller County Sheriff's Office and the Woodland Park Police Department, along with Vickie Gudaitis, who markets Mary Kay products.

Safe Harbor, a nonprofit organization, is dedicated to supporting men and women who are victims of domestic violence in Teller County.

“We will provide whatever services are needed in the short term,” said Doug Randolph, the board president.

Recently, Safe Harbor added programs to help victims of sexual assault, an expansion for which Randolph credits Mark Manriquez, who is a board member of the organization. “Mark was in law enforcement in San Diego and was instrumental in getting sexual-assault programs started there,” Randolph said.

A common problem for support groups such as Safe Harbor is the reluctance of victims to report physical abuse; nationally one in seven victims come forward. “There are lots of reasons why they don't reach out,” Randolph said.

Some victims are concerned about their pets if they flee the domestic situation. “If pets need foster care or a kennel, we will cover the cost for a few days until the person gets organized,” Randolph said.

In the past the work of Safe Harbor was generally unknown. That has changed, as a result of two $5,000 grants from El Pomar Foundation. “Until a couple of years ago, Teller Safe Harbor operated on a shoestring,” Randolph said. “Now we can afford to put people up in a motel, either locally or not.”

On a day in April, stylists at Kokopelli salon in Woodland Park held a fundraising event for Safe Harbor.

With money in the bank, the organization is supporting more victims while maintaining its long-term goal of funding a safe house somewhere in Teller County.

To raise funds for the organization, the IDIA women are donating their vendor fees as well as a portion of the profits from the day's expo.

“The expo is more of an opportunity to raise awareness for Teller Safe Harbor,” Idleman said.

The Teller Women's Expo is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 20 at the Woodland Park library. For information about vendor booths, call 339-5877.