Sylvia’s Place Fall Festival helps women’s shelter

By: 
Ryan Lewis, Editor

The Sylvia’s Place Fall Festival fundraiser is fast approaching, the annual event that supports the county’s only women’s shelter.

The festivities will be Thursday, Oct. 11, at The Silo in Allegan from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., featuring a silent auction, raffles and a photo booth.

The event is the nonprofit’s primary fundraiser for the year, and the theme is “Advocate. Donate. Celebrate.”

Sylvia’s Place president Christina Stegink said, in her letter to sponsors, “...the proceeds are vital for our organization to continue offering services such as safe shelter, individual therapy, legal advocacy, and case management help to find housing and employment.

“Last year alone we housed 102 women and children fleeing domestic violence and assisted over 198 individuals with non-residential services. We know that many are in need with over 1,025 cases of domestic violence being reported from Allegan County alone by the Michigan State Police and Allegan County Sheriff’s Office.”

The event is as old as the organization itself, 22 years. Since its founding in 1996, more than 63,666 safe bed nights have been provided to more than 2,842 women and children fleeing domestic violence. Its safe house offers emergency shelter for as many as six families simultaneously.

Sylvia’s Place executive director Heather Forrest said operation costs for the safe house continue to rise, while funding continues to decrease.

The centerpiece of the event is a raffle for a ladies fashion ring valued at $1,200 donated by Hart’s Jewelry in Plainwell. Tickets are on sale now for the diamond ring in 14k white and yellow gold.

Forrest said, “We’ll draw the winner of that raffle that evening, but you don’t have to be present to win. People can purchase tickets that evening, online or at our downtown office, (269) 673-5742.

“We’ll also have some other drawings for those in attendance, like a heads-and-tails game where people can win gift certificates to local businesses.”

The evening includes heavy hor d’oeuvres, desserts and a cash bar.

The fall festival is also about raising awareness of domestic violence.

Sylvia’s Place president Christina Stegink said, in her letter to sponsors, “Every day in Allegan County a woman picks up the phone and calls the Sylvia’s Place 24-hour crisis line because she has decided that she doesn’t want to be hurt anymore. She doesn’t want to fear for her and her children’s lives anymore and she is taking that first brave step towards safety.”

Forrest said, “The Fall Festival is a celebration, but it’s also about awareness. Our biggest goal is to get information into the hands of the community—to make sure those in need of our services can know where to get them.

“They can call us; they can reach out. Many times, victims don’t have a support system and we want them to know we’re here.”

The reservation deadline is Oct. 5, and tickets cost $50 per person.

To register online, visit www.sylviasplace.com. For those who cannot attend but would like to donate, the website has a wish list and a current needs list available to purchase from Amazon.com that is updated regularly to reflect the highest priority.

Contact Ryan Lewis at rmlewis@allegannews.com or (269) 673-5534.

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