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New Orleans's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | New Orleans, Louisiana | WWLTV.com

FestiGals celebrations to help fund domestic violence program

"We want to see fewer victims and more survivors."

Beginning Thursday, the colorful FestiGals celebrations will be in full swing, with the annual parade marching through the French Quarter Friday night.

However, behind all the fun, is a bigger, more serious cause.

For the eighth year, there will be parading, networking, empowering talks, and partying this weekend at the four-day-long FestiGals celebration.

"We find that women connect with women that they've never met. Last year, one of my favorite stories is, our Grand Diva this year, met a women that was from Dallas. They got to be good friends and a friend from Dallas actually went with them on a vacation to Africa two weeks ago," said FestiGals Founder Diane Lyons.

It began as a way to celebrate women who brought back the city, homes and families after Hurricane Katrina, but today, some of those who join the celebration have another cause.

"Domestic violence is a cause that we hold very close to our hearts. In 2015, we had one of our Siren Sisters who unfortunately was a victim of domestic violence, and was killed. And that was very hard on our members, but we feel very passionate about this cause," said Sarah Balyeat, Director of Branding for the Sirens of New Orleans.

The Sirens of New Orleans is one of the many dance and social groups that will be marching in the FestiGals Friday night parade. Through online donations and parade entrance fees, 100 percent of the funds go to The New Orleans Family Justice Center.

"They really bring a lot of awareness to the work that we do. It starts conversations. It gets people talking about domestic violence and sexual assault, and they also raise a lot of money which is, we need money to be able to provide services to our clients," said Ashley Ponson, the Director of Client Services at The New Orleans Family Justice Center.

The center has 6,000 visits a year from 1,500 clients. They help the victims, women, children and men, who have lived through domestic violence. There is everything from counseling to legal, educational and employment services, to Camp Hope for the children.

"We are very passionate about raising money for domestic violence victims. We want to see fewer victims and more survivors," said Balyeat.

Like the women we found in the center singing an original song about survival.

There is still time for men and women to sign up to be in the parade, and for tickets to any of the events and parties. For more information, click here.

To donate to the Sirens for the New Orleans Family Justice Center, click here.

If you need help from the New Orleans Family Justice Center, click here.