BENNINGTON -- For women interested in continuing their education but who may not know where to start, an educational workshop will be held today, Thursday, Oct. 24, from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Bennington Library.

Hosted by the Project Against Violent Encounters, the workshop will offer course information, financial aid packets and answers to questions by representatives from local colleges and the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center.

"It's a good opportunity for women to learn about continuing their education, and all the help that is available to them," said Lauren Wilcox, housing advocate and organizer of the event.

Scholarship opportunities will be available for women and survivors of domestic violence, as well as food and the chance to win a $25 gift card for attendees who provide their name and phone number.

"We're hoping to also do workshops on basic financial responsibilities," said Wilcox, a recent addition to PAVE who first joined the organization as one of 16 volunteer advocates answering phone calls to the domestic violence hotline.

Wilcox has already applied for grant monies to pursue the idea, one of which is offered by Allstate Insurance.

"They recently started an economic empowerment program for survivors of domestic violence," she said. "It will help women learn how to balance their budgets and the difference between wants and needs."

Nancy Feinberg, volunteer coordinator at PAVE, has only good things to say about the newest employee and Manchester native.

"Lauren is very helpful to everyone," said Feinberg. "She's warm and welcoming and very resourceful. She'll do all she can to help."

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first celebrated in October 1987, evolving from a single ‘Day of Unity,' observed by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, with the intent to connect advocates working to end violence against women and children.

Members of Congress have passed domestic violence awareness month commemorative legislation each year since 1989.

Last year, PAVE served 475 adults and 43 children within the community.

"We see a lot of young women who have these big goals and big dreams for themselves," said Feinberg. "Often they're restricted from obtaining any of them. That's why it's so encouraging to see women take their power back and make decisions for themselves."

Services are free and confidential, funded by state and federal grants awarded to the nonprofit, and are available to all victims including members of the LGBTQ community.

Support groups, legal assistance, probation and parole advocacy, emergency and transitional housing, visitation assistance including classes on ‘caring dads' and ‘nurturing parenting,' and basic needs of food and clothing are all offered in Bennington.

For those interested in how to help, PAVE accepts monetary donations as well as prepaid cell phones, non-perishable food and personal care items, and hotline volunteers who wish to enroll in the training program.

The educational workshop will be held in the Bank North Conference Room at the Bennington Library. Organizers ask that only women attend, due to the nature of PAVE's client base. For more information, contact Lauren at housingadvocate@pavebennington.com or visit www.pavebennington.org.

For PAVE's free, 24-hour domestic violence hotline call 802-442-2111 or 800-228-7395.

Contact Khynna at kkuprian@benningtonbanner.com and follow her on Twitter @khynnakat.