When Rapid City resident, Jessica Rauper, first came up with the idea of organizing a karaoke night to bring awareness to domestic violence, and to raise funds for families who need supports in times of turmoil, it took some courage for her to walk through the doors of the Women's Resource Center in Brandon and share her idea.

But Jessica and her newly formed event committee rolled up their sleeves and got to work to bring women and song together at the Ukrainian Hall in Minnedosa. That event was held in mid-April.  With a registration fee of only $25 and silent auction table of prize packages they brought in close to $6,000!

"I think they were a little confused, asking 'who is this stranger showing up wanting to raise a bunch of money for us!'" laughs Rauper. "But the event was better than I could have ever imagined! We had over 90 women show up to participate, and between the event and online donations we raised over $5,800 for the Resource Center."

"I don't know how many donations we collected," she adds. "But there was so much we needed two vehicles to load them all up to bring them to the Women's Resource Center!"

"They were very excited and so happy that we put this together!"

"With [the] support, we were able to raise an impressive $5,810 in funds for the Women’s Resource Centre, in addition to receiving much-needed donated items," she explains. "Your contribution has made a tangible difference in the lives of women in our community who have experience domestic violence, providing them with vital resources, support and hope for a brighter future."

"Just getting to know the women at the Resource Center has been so great," continues Rauper. "To get more connected with them and learn more about who they are and what they do, and just create this beautiful partnership."

Rauper says the name of the fundraiser, 'Project Songbird' came from the feeling that after her own traumatic experience of domestic violence she lost her voice.  She says she's still on her own healing journey, but she has found her voice, and wanted to encourage women to lift their voices and sing.

Hence the name, Project Songbird.

"It's so very sad to know that one in 3 women in this country will experience sexual assault in their lifetime and over 60% of those will experience this before they're 18, and this isn't a world that I want to raise my three daughters in."

"You know, it really can be one person who makes a difference," she adds. "You don't have to be on the Board, you don't have to be anything in particular, you just have to be you and say that you want to make a difference and go with the actions that correlate with that."

Rauper says she doesn't know what the future holds, whether that be to hold an annual Project Songbird event, or to help other communities raise their voices and follow the template of a karaoke fundraiser that she's started. 

"But we're certainly having some conversations around what's the next thing that we can create together."

Please listen to more with Jessica Rauper below!