This May, the WomenShelter of Long Beach is introducing its inaugural “Not-so-Serious” 9-hole Women’s Golf fundraiser at El Dorado Golf Course.
Apart from a lighthearted, “not-so-serious” golf tournament, the event will also include a silent auction, a cocktail hour, a dinner buffet and an award ceremony, all in support of the various efforts at the WomenShelter.
The shelter has served as a community resource for 46 years, beginning as a four-bedroom, 11-bed supportive housing facility—one of the first in Southern California.
Since then, the WomenShelter has grown to support thousands of people each year through a wide range of services—last year, 4,200 people were served, said executive director Kathy McCarrell.
Those who receive assistance from the WomenShelter’s 24-hour supportive shelter, which can house up to seven families (with 28 beds) for 30 to 45 days, receive wrap-around services including case management, a health assessment, legal support, art therapy and more.
Apart from its emergency shelter, the WomenShelter has grown to become a resource to the wider community, particularly through its Domestic Violence Resource Center located on Long Beach Boulevard.
“It’s cool to see someone’s vision go from, ‘Let’s just do this because there’s a really intense need,’” McCarrell said, “to something that has just so much impact in a broader sense throughout the community.”
At the resource center, community members can receive support through classes, trainings and child care, plus they have access to essential items such as clothing, food and diapers, said McCarrell.
In addition to focusing on intervention, the WomenShelter also places an emphasis on prevention by providing educational outreach to middle and high schools as well as colleges and universities. Presentations cover what a healthy relationship looks like, what are the signs of crossing over into abuse, what are the dynamics of a cycle of abuse and how to get out of it, plus, what to do if a friend is experiencing abuse, McCarrell explained.
Providing education early is crucial, as research shows that high school students are already experiencing forms of abuse, McCarrell said.
“We constantly hear … ‘I didn’t know it wasn’t normal,’” McCarrell said. “Another myth is that it only happens to women. … Our services are available to men, women, LGBT community—it’s universal.”
The WomenShelter hosts an annual youth conference, and last year, while 300 people RSVPed, about 99% of respondents were female, McCarrell said.
“Males aren’t socialized to show up at things like that,” despite wanting to know the information as well, McCarrell said. “That made us think, ‘Well, how do we reach the young men?’ It just seems logical that if there is any kind of place that males gather, that they’re already there anyway, would be a really good target.”
In order to reach more boys and men in particular, the WomenShelter is beginning a program to provide outreach to male high school and college sports teams, which will address healthy relationships as well as bystander behavior, McCarrell said.
In the coming years, McCarrell also hopes to expand the WomenShelter’s offerings to include transitional housing, which can support clients beyond the emergency shelter for three months to a year, she said.
National statistics and research shows that 30% of the population actually experiences domestic violence in their personal relationships, “and so we can assume Long Beach fits that and LA County fits that,” McCarrell said. “And so it’s a very unmet need.”
“As much as we do, it’s not even hitting a percentage of the need,” added McCarrell.
Domestic violence is a core issue that impacts many facets of life, but it is still gets less attention than it should, McCarrell said.
“It’s kind of an unspoken issue that’s happening across our society,” McCarrell said. “It’s real and we need to not let it fall off our radar.”
The upcoming May 15 event is an opportunity to raise awareness about the WomenShelter’s work in a low-pressure atmosphere, McCarrell said.
“It’s kind of the opposite of a formal golf tournament, where we don’t keep score. We putt with things like a broom or a hockey stick, you know, it’s very much ‘not so serious,’” McCarrell said. “Then it doesn’t exclude anybody, because often women say, ‘I’m not good enough to golf.’”
The golf concept was inspired by McCarrell’s parents, both of whom were big golfers in the Midwest, but as they got older, they wanted to golf to nine holes rather than to 18, she said.
“I thought, ‘What a great idea, some people just want to do nine,’” McCarrell said. “It’s intimidating to go to a course with men, especially an 18-hole—it’s just too long. It’s intimidating … we just want (the event) to be the opposite of that.”
With 72 slots, the event will also provide an opportunity for women to gather, which McCarrell hopes will be a chance to get more people passionate about supporting domestic violence intervention and prevention, she said.
“I’m looking forward to raising up those women, educating those women and forming kind of a support group for us as a result, but just to have a lot of fun together … (and) to celebrate women’s support for this cause and violence-free lives.”
The “Not-So-Serious” golf event begins at 4 p.m. on May 15 at El Dorado Golf Course, 2400 N. Studebaker Road. Tickets are $175, or $50 to attend only the dinner and reception portion. Get more information and register for the event here. To volunteer with the WomenShelter, learn more here.