For the last three weeks, students in Drew Fales’ afternoon building construction class at the Waldo County Technical Center have worked to make purple the official color in Waldo County for the month of October.

That is because purple is the color associated with Domestic Violence Awareness month.

When Ellie Hutchinson of New Hope for Women approached Fales about getting his students to construct eight, three-foot wooden purple ribbon signs calling for an end to domestic violence, his answer was an immediate yes.

Students in the WCTC welding program attached the re-bar to create the stakes for the signs, and the auto collision class helped out by applying the lettering.

Fales said he wanted the public to know that the WCTC building construction class was available to assist community organizations and schools with their needs, noting that the class made signs for the YMCA and the two sending school districts last year. Fales also wanted to teach his students that it’s important to contribute to the community.

“Because we live in such a wonderful world, we have to give back for what we receive,” he said, noting that he enjoys volunteering his time in his hometown of Freedom, where he serves on the Planning Board and in the historical society.

Hutchinson said the communities in Waldo and Knox counties came through to support the project, too. The labor and materials for the signs were donated by WCTC, while Sherwin Williams of Rockland donated the paint. Buxton Supplies also made donations toward the project, as did Belfast Sign and Design.

Monday, Oct. 4, was the first time Hutchinson had seen the completed signs.

“I’m amazed, I think they’re great,” said Hutchinson, who noted that the students crafted the larger signs using a magnet as a model.

Hutchinson said the signs are destined for different locations throughout Waldo and Knox counties; two will be placed in Brooks to memorialize Deborah Littlefield, whose husband has since been arrested and charged with her murder. Two more will be displayed at the veterans’ memorial in Morrill to honor Pamela Green, who was strangled to death, allegedly at the hands of her live-in boyfriend, last summer.

The wounds are fresh for the communities still reeling from the shock of Littlefield’s and Green’s deaths, said Hutchinson, and she hopes seeing the ribbons in town will offer a bit of hope during an otherwise dark time.

“So many people are hurting from this; both women worked with the public, and the families of the abusers are grieving, too,” she said.

All around Waldo County, purple lights and ribbons are being displayed to raise awareness about domestic violence in the community as well as to display a unified front that tells abusers such violence is not tolerated here. Locations including the Belfast Police Department, Makin’ Waves in Belfast and Tozier’s Market in Searsport are all shining purple lights and displaying signs about domestic violence.

Despite the annual movement to keep the issue of domestic violence in the spotlight and efforts to educate the community, Hutchinson said, society still has a long way to go.

“We’re still at the stage of trying to increase awareness. At this point, it’s an individual thing where people are saying, ‘Gee, maybe I should do something about violence in the home.’ But society as a whole isn’t there yet,” she said. “Domestic violence is a silent epidemic; it happens behind closed doors and it feeds on isolation. We’re trying to bring it out into the light of day.”

At the New Hope for Women Web site, statistics from the Maine Department of Public Safety show that more than 50 percent of murders in Maine are domestic abuse-related, and that Maine is number six in the nation for its rate of domestic violence murders.

Hutchinson said she hopes events planned throughout October, such as the memorial to victims of domestic violence homicides known as “An Empty Place at the Table,” might change those statistics. This year’s memorial is expected to be particularly powerful, because in addition to the items that once belonged to four local women who died at the hands of their domestic partners, this year’s display will also include a high chair. That high chair once belonged to Ava Gushee, an infant from Knox County whose father was convicted in connection with her death.

“Every year it’s hard,” said Hutchinson of the memorial display. “It’s easy to put some distance between you and [the victims] when they’re from York or Aroostook County, but it’s not so easy when it’s that close to home.”

The Empty Place at the Table memorial will be on display at the Belfast Free Library Friday, Oct. 8.