They wore purple shirts, ribbons and sweaters in support for victims of domestic violence in Wayne County and across the state.
The domestic violence vigil, held by the Wayne Uplift Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Program, drew supporters and partners Tuesday to the Herman Park fountain.
Tied to the fountain rail were 62 balloons -- 58 purple, two pink and two blue -- in remembrance of the number of people who have died this year from domestic violence in North Carolina.
The pink balloons represented two young girls, a newborn and a 2-year-old, and the blue balloons represented boys, a 5-year-old and 17-year-old, all who died as a result of a domestic violence in the state, said Deborah Carter, victim advocate with Wayne Uplift.
"We try to do something for awareness every year," Carter said.
The vigil started with a prayer, a moment of silence and words from the Wayne Uplift executive director.
"On behalf of the staff, we are grateful for your attendance this afternoon," said Linda Holden-Cox, Wayne Uplift executive director. "I see board members, collaborative partners and funders and we thank you for coming out to support what we do and to help us recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month."
Attached to each balloon was a purple sheet of paper with the name and age of each victim.
The 62 names were read during the ceremony, including one Wayne County victim, 25-year-old Karla Ayde-Garcia Arellano, who was killed during an apparent murder-suicide in July, Carter said.
The vigil was held to bring awareness to the problem, which often remains hidden, in Wayne County and beyond, Holden-Cox said.
"(Each balloon) represents one individual that has lost their lives to domestic violence," Holden-Cox said. "Even though we may not have had direct contact with that individual ... it touches me. We can't help but have empathy for them."
The vigil was held to coincide with the national observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
"This is domestic violence month and so we want to make some impact to emphasize domestic violence," said Emily Peacock, Wayne Uplift board secretary.
"Hopefully, (this) will make the community more aware and responsive. There is an issue, and there are resources. It is a community need that we need to be able to respond to."
Wayne Uplift is a nonprofit, United Way member agency that started in the county in 2007. The organization provides a variety of support programs and operates a domestic violence shelter for women and their children.
Since its start, Wayne Uplift has served 5,000 victims of domestic violence, Carter said. Annually, the organization helps anywhere from 300 to 400 new clients.
"There is a huge demand for services," Holden-Cox said. "Without the community, we would not be able to provide these services."
James and Carol Williams attended the vigil dressed in purple shirts.
"I've seen enough violence in my lifetime," James Williams said. "It's a good cause. Anything to stop any kind of violence -- anywhere -- is good."
Wayne Uplift, which is located at 719 E. Ash St. near the Wayne County Health Department, has a 24-hour crisis hotline, for English and Spanish speaking residents, at 736-1313.
Wayne Uplift services include court advocacy, victim empowerment class and support group, an anonymous parents program, abuser treatment class, 24 hour sexual assault hospital accompaniment service, women's empowerment program and sexual assault counseling and referrals.
Wayne Uplift started offering services in 2007, after the former Lighthouse of Wayne County closed its shelter in 2006. At the time, there was a recognized need for domestic violence services and programs in the county, Holden-Cox said.