Seven years after her daughter’s murder, Colleen Bowers’ fight to raise awareness of domestic violence is going strong.
The fourth annual fundraiser held in memory of Melissa A. Bowers, who in 2012 was slain in Carnegie by an ex-boyfriend, has raised $8,900 and counting for the Center for Victims in Pittsburgh’s South Side.
The banquet held at Cefalo’s in Carnegie on Feb. 9 had a turnout of more than 100 people, Colleen Bowers said. Collection efforts are ongoing with an end date of March 17 and a goal of $15,000.
Colleen Bowers began organizing yearly fundraisers for the Center for Victims after holding several years of memorial vigils in order to “pay it forward” to the group.
“I have to turn a negative to a positive to move forward,” she said, “especially for my granddaughter.”
Giant Eagle, Applecious and other local businesses donated goods to the event, which boasted performances from several local groups such as Corned Beef and Curry, SoulFemme, the November Blue Band. AEY Nail Bar in Shadyside helped raise $2,500 for this year’s drive.
Bowers said she hopes to partner with more businesses for future fundraisers.
Bowers has in the meantime continued networking with the family members of domestic violence victims and spoken publicly on the topic. Through her work, she said, she hopes to open a broader dialogue that will help Pennsylvania to strengthen its laws protecting victims of such crimes.
She also hopes to bring attention to poorer counties that she said often lack domestic violence resources.
“It’s a conversation that’s not being had,” she said.
Bowers also spoke positively about the support she continues to receive from the Carnegie community, as well as current Mayor Stacie Riley and former mayor Jack Kobistek.
“They have been the most supportive borough,” she said. “I try to stay in the Carnegie borough because to me, basically, that is where my daughter had her last breath.”
Donations can be made to this year’s fundraiser at gofundme.com/in-memory-of-melissa-bowers-amp-domestic-violence.