Holy Trinity, Episcopal hosts Ladies Night

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 25, 2015

RELAX: Audience members practice relaxation exercises with certified massage therapist Fawn Francis Thursday night during the Ladies’ Night Out personal safety discussion at Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal.

RELAX: Audience members practice relaxation exercises with certified massage therapist Fawn Francis Thursday night during the Ladies’ Night Out personal safety discussion at Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal.

In the aftermath of the brutal murder of local resident Sharen Wilson, the Church of the Holy Trinity, Episcopal, planned an informative event in Wilson’s honor for the women of the community, and on Thursday night, more than 200 women attended Ladies Night Out, which included a personal safety discussion.

Those in attendance included women from the Mountain of Faith Women’s Restoration Shelter.

“We currently have women that have been abused, and after the incident with the woman who was killed, we brought the ladies from the shelter to hear the program,” the executive director of the shelter, Tina Hayward, said.

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Thursday’s event kicked off with refreshments served in the parish hall of the church followed by a program in the sanctuary, which included safety tips and relaxation strategies aimed at reducing anxiety and stress.

“We are hoping the event will allow women to re-bond and also make some new connections,” said the Rev. Beth Palmer, rector of the church.

The death of Wilson stunned the community, and we are hoping a positive can come from this tragedy, she said.

Palmer said the Ladies Night Out, which is possibly the first of a series of programs the church will offer for women, is designed to accomplish two things.

“First I want everyone to have a nice time, and secondly I hope everyone goes home saying they learned something,” she said.

The program began with a prayer given by Palmer followed by special music presented by Dr. Clarissa Davis and Dorothy Brasfield.

Katie Wright, a Licensed Professional Counselor at Grace Christian Counseling Center, talked briefly on how traumatic events affect people and coping strategies to use if one experiences something upsetting.

“Going through a traumatic event can affect people in many different ways,” Wright said, which include a person’s genetics, how an individual can cope and the level of trauma one experiences.

“The good news is healing can come after trauma,” Wright said.

Specific coping mechanisms one can do include focusing on healthy eating and sleeping habits.

“It’s important to get those under control. Exercise can help you heal faster mentally, and it is also good for you physically,” she said.

“It is also important to seek medical and mental health care if you feel like you are overwhelmed,” Wright said.

Crime prevention specialists, Tjuana Washington and Danielle Williams of the Vicksburg Police Department, followed Wright with a PowerPoint presentation on personal safety tips for women.

The 20-step presentation included common sense approaches for acting safely, defense methods and proactive measures to avoid harm.

“Always, always be aware of your surroundings,” Washington said.

“The worst thing you can do is have no idea who or what is around you. The more you pay attention, the less likely you are to be surprised. Pay attention to things someone may say, the clothes they are wearing, tattoos, glasses and mustaches. If you have to provide information to a law enforcement agent, the more specific you are the better able we are to capture someone,” she said.

One of the 20 tips they listed includes their recommendation to report anything that looks suspicious.

“Sometimes being a nosy neighbor is a good thing. If it was you, you would want someone to get involved,” Washington said.

In regards to one’s well-being, Williams said, “If your safety is at stake, it’s no time to be nice. We are not concerned about people’s feelings at this time, and if you have to defend yourself, aim for body parts on your attacker that are tender and cannot be strengthened,” she said.

Also, if you carry a weapon, make sure you know how to use it and are willing to use it.

“If you don’t know how to use a gun or pepper spray properly, the perpetrator may use it on you,” said Williams.

If attacked, keep fighting.

“Never, ever give up! No matter what happens, never stop fighting. God is going to send you some strength from somewhere. Do what you have to do,” she said.

Williams added if there was anyone interested in setting up a neighborhood watch, to contact them at the police department.

At the conclusion of the PowerPoint presentation, audience members were allowed to ask questions to the crime prevention specialists.

During this phase of the program, many of the women in the audience also offered some of their own safety tips to the group.

Certified massage therapist, Fawn Francis, with the Secret Garden Spa followed the question and answer segment with demonstrations of relaxation exercises.

The evening concluded with a final prayer.

Responses from those in attendance were positive.

“I thought the program was great. The presenters were very informative, and I was encouraged by such a large gathering,” Donna Saunders said.

“I think tonight’s program more or less reminded me of tings I have known in the past, on the safety especially,” Beth Butler said.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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