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SAFE Harbor holds quilt raffle instead of annual auction

Supporting Survivors

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LAKE COUNTY – SAFE Harbor’s annual event to raise funds to support people experiencing domestic violence is a bit different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are not having the art auction,” said Dana Grant, event coordinator. “It was a tough choice to make. This would have been the 16th year for the auction. It has a lot of history and energy, and we have so many donors wanting the connection that the auction provides, but as things are, we decided to do it a different way this year.” 

The event is usually held in October during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and features dozens of art pieces, many by local artists, and other items with the quilt being a popular feature. Carl Rohr has designed and donated a king-size quilt every year for about the past six years. 

“The quilt was already made for this year, so we decided to keep that energy going and have a quilt raffle instead of the auction,” Grant said. “Without our auction, we are trying to be creative in other ways. One of the great spirits who always supports us is Carl. He is an amazing quilter.”  

Grant developed a video on the SAFE Harbor Facebook page to promote the quilt. He displayed the geometric square design with gray, black, white, maroon and pink colors in various patterns. “It’s everything a quilt should be: great colors, large, cozy, comfortable, great for your bed, couch or just hanging on the wall, whatever you want to do,” he said. “The cold, cold of fall and winter is going to come roaring down the hill and that’s when you need a quilt like this amazing quilt.” 

Tickets are available  for $25 at Sister Sallie’s Thrift Store in Ronan, at the SAFE Harbor web page, www.safeharbormt.org, or by calling Grant at 406-240-0640 or by email at dana@safeharbormt.org.

Community heroes are also honored each year during the event, which will be held virtually this year on Oct. 29. More details will be available on the SAFE Harbor Facebook page as soon as they are available. 

The auction brings in thousands of dollars annually to help support the nonprofit, nearly $50,000 in 2015, so when the pandemic hit earlier this year, the SAFE Harbor crew could see that a group event with hundreds of community members might not be an option, so they went to work to secure funding in other ways. 

“We have secured funds from private foundations to supplement the loss of the auction,” Grant said. “We are looking into a couple more things, and I think we will be ok. We also always welcome donations at any time.” 

SAFE Harbor provides shelter, safety, nurturing advocacy, financial support and healing to survivors of domestic violence in Lake County and on the Flathead Reservation. They provide services for about 1,200 people in the area each year. Last year, 600 adults were served with 350 children. 

After experiencing domestic violence and reaching out for help, utilizing the court system can be one way people seek a resolution with things like protection orders, custody agreements and divorce, but attending court can be intimidating. “In many cases, we offer support by just having someone go along during the process,” Grant said. “I think legal assistance is the biggest need for our clients. We have a team to help provide that. When people have legal support, it brings about long-term change. The legal piece is a very important part of what we do, which is civil legal representation – not criminal. We work closely with the justice system to help get resolutions with advocacy and support.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed protocol with available services. Each client is now assessed, following state guidelines, for possible exposure to the virus before they enter the SAFE Harbor shelter where women and children live in a home-like setting. “If someone is not feeling well and they have a temperature, we can set them up at a hotel for a night or two, instead of coming into the shelter. We are also constantly cleaning.”

The winter months might create another challenge with the pandemic. Grant said he imagines that many clients have not wanted to live in a group setting at the shelter for fear of getting sick with the virus along with everything else they are dealing with, so they might have stayed in their cars or set up camping spaces outside to get away from domestic violence situations.

“As the weather changes, we could see more people coming in,” he said. “I’m not sure what will happen.”

Grant also asks that people check on their neighbors and friends during the pandemic in a way that maintains physical distancing to make sure they are doing well. “We are concerned about families and children during this time,” he said. “People are stressed. These are factors that contribute to violence. We want people to know that there are resources here to help.” 

If anyone needs assistance for themselves or anyone else, the 24-hour SAFE Harbor crisis line is 406-676-0800. The regular office number is 406-676-0992. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Domestic Violence Awareness Month began in October of 1981 with what was then called a Day of Unity by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In 1987, the Day of Unity became the first domestic violence awareness month. Congress passed a law in 1989 to officially designate October as awareness month. 

The Centers for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey indicates that one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. The statistics show that over 43 million women and 38 million men have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 

 

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