St. Charles Herald-Guide

A social and dance club with a serious side:

Kyle Barnett - July 13, 2012

The Parish’s No. 1 social and dance club is taking on a noble task for their August benefit dance.

The Oldies But Goodies Club will be holding a high school reunion-themed dance on Saturday, Aug. 25 that will focus on celebrating area seniors who went to school in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Proceeds from the dance will go towards raising funds for the St. Charles Battered Women’s Shelter run by the Alpha Daughters of Zion.

Shirley Sims, executive director of the shelter, said she is grateful for the help.

"We are the only shelter in St. Charles Parish that serves victims of domestic violence and women that are coming out of the penal system," Sims said. "We are in partnership with the United Way, but we still need extra funds to keep the shelter operating. We have two fulltime persons who are working at the shelter, which is me and another lady. We’re the only two full time workers working there in the shelter."

Sims said since the shelter opened in 2009 they have been able to help around 20 women in the parish escape abusive relationships. She said the service is particularly useful for women who do not have a local support network.

"Suppose if you live in Washington, D.C. and you have a daughter living here in St. Charles Parish and your daughter was a victim of domestic violence and she had nowhere to go. No family here. Her husband was beating her up every night and she had nowhere to go with her children," Sims said. "And she found out about a place called Alpha Daughters of Zion where she could come and get safety from her abuser and also get the help that she needs, the help to make a new life."

Sims said the shelter just helped a woman and her children escape an abusive situation.

"We just had a mother and two children that just left the shelter on Thursday last week. They are going to live with someone else. Their abuser was in jail," Sims said. "It is a pretty difficult situation."

Sims said the shelter offers a way out for those with nowhere else to turn.

"Their self esteem has been torn down. They have lost their identity and they are stuck with a person that tells them they are not worth anything. They are stuck with a person who tells them they are the only one that loves them. They are stuck with a person that says ‘I’m sorry that I hit you but you made me do it.’ And they go to bed every night crying because they have nowhere to escape," Sims said. "Our shelter allows them to escape their abusers, to get counseling and to relocate if they want to."

Cheryl Matherne, Secretary of the Oldie But Goodies Club, said such scenarios is why they are putting on a benefit for the shelter.

"It is just the spirit of being able to give to someone and it makes you feel good helping your fellow man whenever you can and encourage other people to do so," Matherne said. "We give from our hearts."

Matherne said the club originally began as an activity for the area’s senior citizens, but quickly took on a philanthropic aspect.

"It was formed about six years ago mainly to have a place for seniors to have somewhere to go on a Sunday afternoon," Matherne said. "From then it evolved to where we held dances and socials and then any extra money we would have we’d donate to different charitable organizations or individuals who were in need."

Matherne said now they are holding multiple benefits per year for various causes.

"A year ago we did a fundraiser for the people in Joplin, Mo. We found a family out there and we were able to raise and send to them $5,000," Matherne said. "It was a family and we dealt with the grandparents and brothers and sisters and so forth. It was nice that we found an individual family so we could send that money direct."

Matherne said the tickets for the benefit for the battered women’s shelter are selling for $15, but there are only a few left. Those who would like to attend can reserve one by calling her at (985) 764-7242.

For Sims part she said she is grateful people in the parish are willing to help the shelter.

"I just want to thank them and have them know that I thank God for their willingness to donate to our shelter to keep our shelter open. The shelter is something needed in St. Charles Parish," Sims said. "What they are going to give us will allow us to continue providing services that our clients need when they walk through the door. Their money is being invested in St. Charles Parish to help victims of St. Charles Parish. "

For those who would like more information or would like to donate to the battered women shelter can contact Shirley Sims at (504)431-2254 or Ivy Williams at (504)812-0965.

(Correction: The published version of the story and an earlier web version listed the dance as Sunday, August  26 when it is actually Saturday, August 25.)

A social and dance club with a serious side: