After 10 years and over $1 million raised, Dancing With the Athens Stars returns to the Classic Center to raise money for Project Safe. In a nutshell, it goes like this: Local “celebrities” get paired up with professional dance instructors to compete for two awards, Audience Favorite and Judges’ Favorite. “Celebrities” is in quotes because Athens has such a unique relationship to the word. Athens loves its radio personalities just as much as its bank managers, and it’s much more than just an opportunity to giggle at your boss clogging in front of hundreds of people.
A fun fact about receiving government grants for a women’s shelter or pretty much any nonprofit organization: Those grants are often earmarked for certain uses, which can leave organizations unable to provide other services that their community might desperately need. Donations from the public aren’t bound by any laws, and can be spent at an organization’s discretion. That’s great news for an organization with as much going on as Project Safe, which provides services ranging from support groups to rapid rehousing for abuse survivors and their dependents. It also provides education and outreach by offering presentations and training on domestic violence and safety training to the public. It maintains a confidentially located emergency shelter that it was in the process of expanding at the time of last year’s event, which raised over $129,000.
Dancing is fun, but domestic violence is not, and Project Safe seems to understand how to balance the seriousness of its cause with the levity of watching Chris Shupe dust off his jumpsuit and treat us to his rendition of “Burnin’ Love” after famously retiring his Elvis tribute act in the winter of 2016. Each team’s performance is prefaced by a short video featuring a training montage and the participants talking about why they support Project Safe. Sometimes, those reasons get personal, and the event can morph into something more profound than entertaining.
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