Disco lights, colorful fabrics, and funky music filled the festive night as the Athens community gathered for Project Safe’s annual Groovy Nights fundraiser on August 25. For the past 17 years, Groovy Nights has brought in hundreds of adults looking to re-experience the exhilarating times the ‘70s and ‘80s once brought them.
“Groovy Nights has always been a night to let loose and tap into the nostalgia of the ‘70s and ‘80s. While the venue has changed a few times throughout the years, the heart and soul of the event is always present and vibrant as soon as you walk into the room,” said Kendall Worman, Community Involvement and Volunteer Coordinator for Project Safe. “From the outlandish costumes, dancing, ‘70s and ’80s decor, disco balls, to the lip sync battles, there’s something for everyone.”
The event is a lip-syncing battle between nine teams. There are two winners, one chosen by a panel of judges, and one chosen by the audience. The audience choice winner is determined by how many dollars are in each group’s voting box at the end of the night. 90 cents of every dollar made at the event go toward Project Safe, a non-profit organization.
“We brought together a team of faculty members and students that are both on our volunteer board as well as students who are just supporters of the group, so it was just a great opportunity for us to come together as a team in a different way than we do inside of the school,” said Rebecca Mears, University of Georgia veterinary school student and member of “The Vets for Pets and People” team, who won Judge’s Choice.
Despite being an enjoyable event, Groovy Nights highlights a serious issue.
Project Safe provides help to people and families who are survivors of domestic violence by offering services for those in need.
“Project Safe has an emergency shelter where we can house survivors of domestic violence for up to three months. During those three months, people are working on goals like finding stable housing, employment, and childcare. [We’re] also working on personal goals with our advocates so that ideally they are in a better place to move forward in their healing when they leave our shelter. Our 24/7 hotline is also housed at our shelter,” said Worman.
As a non-profit organization, Project Safe operates by obtaining grant money.
“Events like Groovy Nights and Dancing with the Athens Stars allow us to raise money to do extra things that we couldn’t necessarily do with some of the grant money we receive,” said Project Safe director Ani Fischer. “This money gives us the freedom to do things like calling a cab for somebody or helping someone get set up in an apartment.”
For the many victims of domestic violence, the services provided by Project Safe are important. In 2017 alone, the organization answered 2,660 crisis hotline calls, offered outreach services to 1,067 survivors, and gave 257 educational presentations.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence estimates that almost twenty people per minute are abused by their in-home partner. Over the course of a year, this adds up to ten million women and men who are physically abused.
While Groovy Nights participants, attendees, and volunteers came to The Foundry to have a good time, they also came to support the cause.
“I feel like domestic violence is a really serious topic and my family has been impacted by it. So I think it [Groovy Nights] is a very valid event, and I choose to support them in all sorts of different ways,” said Katrina Evans, attendee.