For those who are attending Friday’s Lights on the Lawn concert on Alumni Lawn, most are considering which neon top to wear or if 2 Friends is an artist or just Gryffin’s two friends. One thing that you might not have considered about the annual EDM concert, though, is where the proceeds go. Lights on the Lawn has been benefitting The Mary Parrish Center for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence for the past four years, raising over a total of $250,000 in that time. With that much money going to a single organization, the Hustler decided to take a look at what exactly goes on at The Mary Parrish Center.
The Mary Parish Center (or MPC) is the only therapeutic transitional housing program in Tennessee and one of only a few in the country. Its mission is to provide a “cost-free therapeutic transitional housing program and a myriad of loving, comprehensive services that enable victims of domestic and sexual violence to heal from their abuse, reclaim their autonomy, and reawaken their hopes and dreams.” The program has provided cost-free two-year housing to over 119 women and children from 13 different countries for the past 7 years now.
The MPC is, as far as they are aware, the only program like this which is cost-free, meaning that they carry a larger financial burden than most other programs. This makes Lights on the Lawn that much more important for the continued care of the clients of the MPC. In fact, Lights on the Lawn “afforded [the MPC] the opportunity to purchase [their] property—a major milestone achieved for any nonprofit,” according to Director of Development Bridget Claborn, a member of the Vanderbilt class of 2015. The reason for being cost-free is to address the common trend of homelessness in victims of domestic and sexual abuse. According to the Department of Justice, poverty-including the inability to find safe, affordable housing-is the number one reason for victims to return to their abusers.
Vanderbilt’s relationship began with The Mary Parrish Center began four years ago when a member of Vanderbilt Greek Life called the head of the MPC and offered to donate the proceeds of Lights on the Lawn to them. “It was really kind of a miracle that it happened…It’s not like a relationship was built beforehand,” Claborn explained. As a student at Vanderbilt she admits to thinking that Lights on the Lawn was “just another fraternity event” and that many of Vanderbilt’s relationships with charities felt “transactional.” “I don’t feel that way about The Mary Parrish Center.”
Since the inception of the relationship between the MPC and Lights on the Lawn, Vanderbilt has found even more ways to get involved with the organization. The Alpha Chi Omega sorority goes to the MPC to babysit for residents of the MPC so that the mothers have a chance to take care of business that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to or get a chance to be an independent person for a while. Other Greek chapters have visited the Mary Parrish center to offer services, and non-Greek orgs and students are welcome as well.
In addition, multiple students- including Claborn- have done their HOD internships at the MPC, and members of the staff and student body currently serve on the Mary Parrish Center’s executive board, including Chancellor Zeppos. Of course, if you are unable to participate in any of these manners, just buying a Lights on the Lawn ticket or shirt or donating to the MPC also helps to keep a mother or child safe and fed.