Dresses for Change: CU Staff and Faculty Participate in Dressember
by Audrey Wierenga (B.A. ’18)
December in Michigan is not the best time to wear a dress. Most people opt for warm sweaters, scarves and thick coats. But some people on Cornerstone University's campus are opting to make a statement to raise awareness for human trafficking across the globe.
The movement, called Dressember, started in 2009 when founder Blythe Hill challenged herself to wear a dress for each day in December. Her movement spread quickly among her friends until it became a global fundraiser.
Cornerstone students and faculty have been actively involved in Dressember since the beginning. Human trafficking is as much of a global issue as it is a local one—according to Rebecca McDonald, founder and president of Women at Risk, International, there are 2,400 minors in West Michigan for sale at any given time.
This year, several faculty and staff on Cornerstone's campus have been involved in the Dressember movement. Those who participate in the movement set up their own personalized campaign page to share their story and raise money through sponsorships.
"It truly made me feel like I was part of a movement for good," said Care Allen, who serves as assistant director of early college programs at Cornerstone. This year is her first year participating in Dressember. "I typically wear dresses and skirts because I'm really into fashion but having a reason this month mattered."
Allen is among several staff and faculty members who are participating in Dressember this year. Since 2013, the worldwide campaign has raised over $7.5 million for efforts to combat human trafficking.
"Dressember means hope in action," Allen said. "To Cornerstone's community, I believe it means taking a stand for something and putting in the work to show that we are part of it and not sideline supporters."
Julia Petersen, assistant professor of creativity and innovation, is also participating in Dressember for the first time. After learning about the true extent of human trafficking in West Michigan and around the world, Petersen realized the need for tangible change.
"I think we as Christians need to be willing to fight cultural evil not just with our opinions and beliefs but by putting those beliefs into action," Petersen said. "I think Dressember is an accessible way toward how to love our cultural change in a small and doable way. Hopefully, it will inspire us all to more actions and lifestyles of cultural impact."