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Featured / News / Sports / Virgin Islands / June 8, 2015

ST. CROIX — At 4:45 p.m. on Sunday, women of St. Croix gathered at the Christiansted Waterfront on the lawn of the National Park Service, 347 strong, for a 2-mile race spanning the Canegatta Ballpark, downtown Christiansted and back to where it began.

Children, teens, adults and the elderly came out in droves for the 31st Annual Women Coalition’s race against violence that doubles as the nonprofit’s biggest fundraising event, conjuring an atmosphere of unity and strength for the fight against the very important issue of violence against women.

Some took the run seriously as it’s also a legitimate qualifying race, however most participants ran in support of the cause, including groups formed by the many private firms that have supported the fundraiser over the years.

Yet, while the race demonstrates strength and paints a picture of an organization that’s well-supported, Women’s Coalition is in deep financial distress; and the organization may wind up cutting some of its critical programs in order to stay afloat.

“We haven’t been getting any funding from the Government because of ongoing problems with grants at the Virgin Islands Law Enforcement Planning Commission (LEPC). So whereas we’d get funding to do financial  assistance for victims and to expand our services, we haven’t been able to do that, and it’s gotten to the point where we’re pretty much running off the donations of the community and very few grants from private entities,” Women’s Coalition Crisis Counselor Sheelene Gumbs told VI Consortium in a telephone interview conducted on Monday morning.

Gumbs said it’s one of the reasons why the fundraisers are extremely important for the nonprofit, because “they help keep our doors open.”

Women’s Coalition receives federal grants that come through the LEPC. However, LEPC must adhere to federal protocols that govern the release of said funds. Gumbs said Women’s Coalition has done its part, but for the past five years, the organization has seen funding cuts.

The Christiansted run raises funds through sponsorships by local firms and through registration costing $20 – $25.  Women’s Coalition also receives aid through funding allotted by Congress for groups engaging in victim advocacy.

But LEPC hasn’t always been slow in making available the federal funding it receives for Women’s Coalition, however the recent setbacks have greatly strained the nonprofit’s operations.

Nonetheless, Sheelene said the Coalition’s quest to continue providing vital services to the community will continue, and so will the annual race.

That’s good news for Shirley Govine.

“I’ve been doing this from the time they started,” Govine said. “It’s a way of life to exercise, and I walk, I go to the health club four days a week, I live a positive life and God is in my life.”

Govine, 80, who danced her way to the finsih line along with four friends, thanked God for keeping her strong. She also encouraged those who feel intimidated by exercises to “make a move.”

“Even if your joints are hurting and even if you’re in pain, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Make a move,” Govine said.


Feature Image: Country Day School students, fastest in the race for four years running, hold up a trophy.

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Ernice Gilbert
I wear many hats, I suppose, but the one which fits me best would be journalism, second to that would be radio personality, thirdly singer/songwriter and down the line. I've been the Editor-In-Chief at my videogames website, Gamesthirst, for over 5 years, writing over 7,000 articles and more than 2 million words. I'm also very passionate about where I live, the United States Virgin Islands, and I'm intent on making it a better place by being resourceful and keeping our leaders honest. VI Consortium was birthed out of said desire, hopefully my efforts bear fruit. Reach me at [email protected].

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