Pearl’s Fitness Studio held a Zumba Party on Sunday, Oct. 14 to raise money for Shelter Our Sisters, a not-for-profit agency in Bergen County that helps victims of domestic violence.
The event was in conjunction with October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The participants danced in the parking lot, drawing curious glances from passers by.
Drawing awareness to a secretive issue
From the hours of 12 to 2 p.m. women paid $10 to join the party. There, Shelter Our Sisters (SOS) gave out literature in English and Spanish related to violence against seniors, dating violence, and other topics.
Shelter Our Sisters assists women and children who are victims of domestic violence, including emotional, economic, sexual, and physical abuse. SOS provides safe housing, hotline counseling, and support services for both women and children. It is Bergen County’s only private not-for-profit shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children.
“I think it’s great to raise money to support a great cause.” – Instructor Chanta Blue.
The event raised $252 and half of the proceeds, $126, went to Shelter Our Sisters to help with the daily needs of the shelter. The rest of the proceeds went to Pearl’s Fitness Studio.
How it started
Husband Jose Garcia and wife Priscilla Poveda-Garcia, who have a young daughter, always wanted to start a studio because of their daughter’s dedication to music, as she is a little ballerina.
“At the same time we wanted to help people out,” said Garcia. “We understand that every day, things happen between families, so we try to help them out as much as we can.”
Sheila Bernstein from SOS, who has been working with the studio for six years, was at the event.
Bernstein wants to tell women “They are not alone and there is a way out… [their] life doesn’t have to be that way.”
“[Owner Priscilla] has empathy for our cause,” said Bernstein.
Men were also becoming aware of domestic violence, Bernstein said. She said she has spoken to local men who grew up witnessing violence within their homes and they do not want to continue the cycle, so they changed their behavior. She also said those men believe in empowering women and educating young men.
Bernstein enjoyed the music and energetic atmosphere that was provided by Garcia’s nephew, DJ Varo. The instructors for the event were Chanta Blue, Jaime Levine, and Stephanie Tay.
“I thought it was fabulous because I’m a jazzercise instructor,” said Bernstein. “I’ve done so many speaking engagements and fundraisers but this is so much fun.”
Edward Sandval came to support the cause and brought some people from his kickboxing class.
Garcia said he had relatives who were victims of domestic violence. In addition, Poveda-Garcia and Bernstein are both survivors of domestic violence.
“I myself was a victim of domestic violence,” said Poveda-Garcia. “Back then when I was suffering through it, there was no help at all. There was no shelter or anything like that.”
Poveda-Garcia is giving back to the women so they have somewhere to safely go.
“You never know when ladies are being abused…they stay quiet,” said Poveda’s sister, Patricia Hoyos, who also participated in the event.
“I think it’s amazing because some women are scared to step up and this shows them that there are people out there for you,” said participant Ashley Bure.
“I think it’s great to raise money to support a great cause,” said Instructor Chanta Blue. “Domestic violence is something that most people don’t hear about because they like to keep it amongst the family,” said Blue. “So it’s great that Shelter for Our Sisters is supporting an event like this. Hopefully we’re raising some funds to help a lot of great women.”
Pearl’s Fitness Studio is located on 9100 Tonnelle Ave.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org