Olympia’s ladies arm wrestling club has combined creativity with charity to benefit victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Olympia Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers, known as Oly CLAW, raised $1,628 during its inaugural event May 30 at Le Voyeur in downtown Olympia. Proceeds will go toward crisis intervention programs at SafePlace, a non-profit organization that primarily serves Thurston County victims with shelters, counseling, legal advocacy and more.
Oly CLAW founder and event co-organizer Maureen Maples said about 100 people checked out theatrical matchups between local arm wrestlers with names like Ivana KrusChu and Marie Armtoinette. Wrestlers brought their costumed entourages, and attendees could place “bets” with special Oly CLAW dollars.
The next ladies arm wrestling competition is tentatively slated for October in downtown Olympia, Maples said.
“It just showed that community spirit,” said Maples, who exceeded her initial fundraising goal of $1,000. “It’s a win-win in every possible way.”
One specific program that will benefit from the money is SafePlace’s domestic violence outreach in rural areas, said Thomasina Cooper, development director. She praised Oly CLAW for its creative approach to raising both money and awareness.
“It really is a neat perspective on the giving part and creative part of Olympia,” Cooper said. “People care.”
Mary Pontarolo, executive director of SafePlace, said the event provided an unlikely forum for sparking conversations about serious issues such as domestic violence and sexual assault.
“It was really an exciting, empowering event,” she said.
SafePlace is in the process of renovating a new headquarters that will nearly double its square footage. The organization operates 24 hours a day with a crisis hot line and victim response services. In 2013, SafePlace fielded 5,273 crisis calls and sheltered 249 people, including 107 children.
Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869 or firstname.lastname@example.org