Sock hop

Dancers get a move on at last year’s Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center sock hop. The 2019 event kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday at the Town Run Tap House in Shepherdstown.

SHEPHERDSTOWN – Panhandle residents who rock around the clock to tunes from the 1950s here on Friday will also be helping the Eastern Panhandle Empowerment Center.

Admission to the EPEC’s fourth-annual Sock Hop to Save Lives! at Town Run Tap House is by donation, with all proceeds going to support the nonprofit’s work in helping those who have suffered from domestic violence and other abuse.

“This has been our biggest fundraiser,” explains Vivian Baylor, program manager for the center. “The Sock Hop keeps getting bigger and bigger each year.”

“It costs $100 to pay for one night in a safe place, like a hotel, for those we serve,” Baylor explains. “Donations from the Sock Hop help the safe night fund. Last year’s Sock Hop gave us $4,000 – so 40 people could have a safe night place.”

Baylor, a Martinsburg resident, joined EPEC in 2016 after graduating from West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in arts psychology. Raised in Jefferson County, she graduated from Jefferson High in 2010.

Baylor said she won’t be dancing the night away on Friday but will spend the evening working at the event. She’s still excited to be there.

“I like that the Sock Hop is fun and is able to bring people of different ages out to support a great cause,” she said.

The sock hop also raises the EPEC’s profile. “We want people to become more familiar with our new name,” she said. “It changed from the Shenandoah Women’s Center in October last year.”

For more than 40 years, EPEC has provided a wide range of services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking.

Volunteers who wanted to help women who were being abused by their partners created the center initially. Now it’s grown into a comprehensive resource and counseling center, addressing the needs of assault victims and survivors and others.

“Over the years we’ve found it’s not just women who are abused – men are, too,” Baylor said. “We’re much more inclusive [now].We see people with drug problems, chronic homelessness and mental health problems.

“We can connect people who need help with other sources in the community.”

 The center has about 21 full- and part-time employees and serves more than 1,500 clients a year through its safe house in Martinsburg and outreach offices in Ranson, Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs. The EPEC also has a hotline – 304-263-8292.

EPEC, which also works to educate the community to change the fundamental beliefs and practices that allow abuse to continue, is funded with private contributions and donations as well as funding from the state Department of Health and Human Services, the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, the United Way, the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services, and other entities.

Friday’s dance will feature popular DJ Rick Rohn and live music by the New Rocketeers. Anyone interested in learning some new dance moves can get lessons from the Swing Sing Scene starting at 6 p.m. The evening also will include a silent auction and raffle.

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