RIDE TO R-E-S-P-E-C-T

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By Andrea Stuart

Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!
Theasphalttremblesat Compadres Rio Grille. Wrinkles form in the nearby Napa River as trees seem to
wave on 200 hogs and their riders with the gesticulation of their branches. Nostrils become
engorged with the gritty, dusty fumes of exhaust as they mingle with cool Napa air. The Ride to
Respect and Protect Poker Run is about to begin. It winds through Sonoma and Napa Valleys, through
Healdsburg, Alexander Valley, Calistoga, St. Helena, Yountville, and Napa, allowing riders to
procure poker cards at various stops before returning to Rio Grille.

Awaiting the riders, a band sets up for an evening of live tunes. Volunteers complete the
arrangement for the raffle as restaurant staff scurries from corner to corner of the restaurant
preparing for the evening’s dinner and poker game awards. This is the start of great things to come
at Napa Emergency Women’s Services (NEWS).

Ride to Respect and Protect Poker Run is a community- inclusive fundraising and awareness event
dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic abuse with support from men who aren’t the average
spokespersons for the organization. Enter the plethora of Harley Davidson riders who showed up for
the event.

“We felt that Harley or motorcycle riders stereotypically are of the bold sort who could send a
powerful message to others, raising awareness to ‘break the cycle of abuse.’ The metaphor is
very strong,” says Myles Davis, event chair and NEWS
board director.

Setting Ride to Respect apart from other fundraisers
of its kind is the friendly ticket price. This year, riders paid only $50 and passengers rode along
for only $25. Dinner tickets, which included dancing, were only $20. The board wanted to make the
event available to the entire community. To succeed at this, it needed to cater to a broader
demographic than just the wealthy, breaching the threshold of the average household.

“Catering to the elite and charging high ticket prices for events seemed counterintuitive to NEWS’
mission,” continues Davis. “With every event, we gain more awareness for our organization and
connect with those who might not know that we are here.”

Formed in 1981 by a group of community members who realized there were few safe places for women
and children to take refuge when fleeing abuse at home, NEWS believes that victims of domestic
violence and sexual abuse have the power to strengthen and heal. This is done through providing
them with respect, understanding, special resources, and kindness.

Today, NEWS has grown into a strong organization with a dedicated staff and volunteer domestic
violence and sexual assault counselors, providing direct client services as well as shelter 24
hours a day/7 days per week to approximately 1,200 women and children each year. NEWS’ programs
include Court Advocacy, Housing, Children Exposed to Domestic Violence Services, Sexual Assault
Victims Services, Support Groups, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Advocacy. The aim is
prevention through education and outreach programs. Ride to Respect is just one more way they are
reaching out.

For more information about NEWS and to keep up
with events, visit napanews.org.

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