The Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center cordially invites everyone to the 17th annual Cake Auction with viewing at 5 p.m. and live auction starting at 6 p.m. This event will be held at the Webster County Fairgrounds on April 14.
Just a few changes and reminders this year: We encourage you to drop your cake and prizes off Friday after 4 p.m. to help with congestion at the door on Saturday. We will accepting cakes and prizes Saturday as well and would like to have all deliveries done by 1 p.m. We appreciate your support this year and hope the additional time to deliver will be beneficial to volunteers and staff.
We will not be sending personal invitations this year because of the cost, so if you don't get that invitation we did not take you off the list, but decided we could use this opportunity to let you know we value you and your attendance at the event.
Thousands of dollars are spent to get mailings out each year and we must cut some corners with expenses, but we have some new additions this year. Jim Reed will be our host for the auction. He is excited and is a great D/SAOC supporter. Happy Bear will be selling cupcakes and mingling with the crowd. The Artful Dodger has selected the Cake Auction as a venue for the outstanding art created by local artists with the proceeds of the sale going to D/SAOC. We have Helen Miller to thank for this privilege. This year's theme is "Movin' On" so watch for those pieces in both live and silent auctions.
The Cake Auction is vital to the success of D/SAOC for many reasons. The obvious reason is fundraising, but beyond that it is our time to connect with the community and meet people we don't have contact with throughout the busy year. We hope it reminds everyone we are here and viable and for us the support we get from all of you gives us a big morale boost.
This is a difficult job during good times and with the economic downturn it becomes an even greater challenge. Many of you might not know we have five fewer people working in our eight counties than three years ago. The Cake Auction is the history of D/SAOC rolled into one great night. Seventeen years is a long time for a consistent event. Many things have changed at D/SAOC including management, staff and available funds, but the Cake Auction is a constant. It has grown and flourished in a time when other fundraising activities have been marginally attended and difficult to pull off. We love the Cake Auction even though it stretches us to the limit.
This year we have a new program development director, Brenda McBride, and she is doing an amazing job of putting this together without having attended in the past. We have many new volunteers as well. This event remains free to the public including food and beverages. Many have asked why we don't sell tickets to get in the door. My response is this: Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault have many barriers in their life and poverty can be No. 1 on the list. I want this event to be a celebration of healing for victims and staff without any strings attached to attend this beautiful night. It is so much fun and so rewarding. I remember standing on the stage last year and watching the line stretch outside. I can't begin to express how that felt. I saw survivors and supporters side by side. I saw old D/SAOC friends and many new friends. I watched new volunteers put their hearts into this event. This is for everyone, all-inclusive, rich or poor, today's victims and tomorrow's survivors.
We are seeing so many tragic events unfold in our state and across the nation and we must take a stand against violence. I know coming to the Cake Auction seems disconnected to those events, but it is not. It is recognition of how each of you feels about the needs of others less fortunate. It is a demonstration of caring about the future of D/SAOC, but more importantly a statement against violence toward innocents. Wear your jeans or wear your formal. Put on a hoodie and wave a rainbow flag. Tell your friends and neighbors that D/SAOC is having a party for all the people that have gone on to lead safe and healthy lives. Let them know we are honoring those who have fallen because of violent acts. Let everyone know they are welcome, loved and accepted. Oppression and hate toward any one group or person will no longer be tolerated in our communities. Speak up for healthy relationships between teenagers and make this dialogue a priority in your homes. Remind everyone you know that inclusiveness is the only way to live and an open accepting heart brings healing to all of us.
Tell your fathers and your sons that they can make a difference in the world by valuing women and intervening in situations where inappropriate behavior is observed. Let your boys know we are aware of the dangers for them in this world and they have a right to speak out and tell without shame if they are abused in anyway. Be culturally humble recognizing we cannot be culturally competent having never shared all life experiences. Let us be kind to each other and put anger aside even if it is for one night.
Our mission at D/SAOC is to offer support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We don't judge or make decisions for our clients, nor do we push them in a direction that is not comfortable for them. We allow them to rest and gain strength for their new challenges. We support their decisions about their safety accepting we do not always know best. We provide needed items to start again thanks to the donations you make at The Key on Central located in Fort Dodge. We assist families that have suffered the loss of a loved one by homicide and we will be at your side through funeral arrangements, court proceedings and after care if you choose for us to be with you. The list goes on and on because we do what needs to be done. We have job descriptions, but have no problem going that extra mile for our clients. We are here for those who need us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We provide shelter if needed for women, men and children.
We have a huge challenge this year as our shelter has a list of to do's that is overwhelming. We need a roof, a kitchen, updated baths and lots of other updates not mentioned. If you would like to help please call 955-2273. It is a priority and something that has been long overdue. It's always about money. Our clients deserve a better home.
I want to thank The Messenger for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts. Can't wait to see you at the Cake Auction April 14.
Connie Harris is executive director of the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center.