Seekhaven boardmembers Marvalee Brewer (left) and Beth McCue attend the Seekhaven’s annual Putting on the Ritz held at the Castle Creek Winery at Red Cliffs Lodge. [Photo courtesy of Seekhaven]

Seekhaven has been Puttin’ on the Ritz for nearly 20 years.

It’s an annual tradition of dressing, dining and dancing to support the local family crisis and resource center.

This year the party will be held at Castle Creek Winery at Red Cliffs Lodge on Saturday, March 2. The evening features a social hour, prime rib dinner, silent auction and dancing.

Moab’s own Mid Life Crisis will play live music.

“People have raved about the band for the last few years,” said Amie Whipple, Seekhaven’s outreach coordinator. “They kick off their shoes and the tables get pulled back. They have a blast.”

Jaylyn Hawks, director of Seekhaven, said it is more than just a fun night.

“First of all it is a great community event. There is such a good feeling of camaraderie and engagement in a critical cause,” Hawks said.

Seekhaven is an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It also provides crisis counseling, victim advocates and referrals for housing, employment, education and life skills.

One of the highlights of the night is the silent auction held in the wine tasting room.

“A lot of organizations do it, but we do it the best,” Hawks said.

There are all day passes to Lagoon amusement park, powerboat rentals on Lake Powell, jewelry designed by local artists, services and tool rentals.

One of their most popular annual donations is a load of gravel from LeGrande Johnson.

“There are a wide variety of things,” Hawks said. “We start mixing and matching things – like a dinner with a room and tickets.”

Seekhaven also pairs with a Park City shelter to provide prizes, such as ski packages complete with rooms and food.

“Merchants here in town put together packages for Park City. And they do the same for us,” Hawks said.

The evening’s proceeds go to the center’s unrestricted budget, which subsidizes programming, salaries and helps individuals seeking assistance.

Many of the center’s services are paid through grants, however as state and federal funding has been cut, the unrestricted budget is paying for more and more of the center’s operating expenses.

“Nearly every staff member is paid by unrestricted money,” Hawks said. “To maintain the level of services we’ve maintained we’ve had to supplement almost everybody’s pay with unrestricted money. This fundraiser is a huge thing.”

Hawks said that she was surprised to find that people didn’t realize that Seekhaven is available around the clock.

“They can call our phone number anytime – it is answered,” Hawks said. “We have people here 24/7.”

Seekhaven serves between 50 and 60 clients a year.

“The actual episodes seem worse, more intense, more brutal,” Whipple said. “The type of violence has escalated to be more horrific each year. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, something else happens.”

And while the shelter is only available to women and children, services are available to anyone regardless of gender who has been victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault.

“Nearly a third of our clients recently have been men,” Hawks said. “One of the most heinous cases of abuse was a male client.”

Many of the male clients are homeless.

“Most have had violence or domestic violence in their background,” Whipple said. “One of our qualifiers is if they’ve had violence in their background.”

Some of the services the center provides is helping individuals start over again, which may require acquiring birth certificates, social security cards or driver’s licenses.

“There are always application fees for these,” Hawks said. “A driver’s license isn’t free. This is where unrestricted funds help individuals.”

Seekhaven also has an intern with a master’s in family therapy provide assessments, group therapy and one-on-one counseling.

“It helps them sort through issues. One big thing is realizing that all the dynamics that go into domestic violence, there are a lot of things that go into the dynamic,” Whipple said. Some abusive behaviors include isolating the person from family and friends, taking control over finances and keeping the person at home.

“Some say ‘it is that he loves me so much’, but they don’t realize it is an abuse of power and control,” Whipple said.

Hawks and Whipple said that their staff is there is to help people find the strength they need to leave abusive relationships.

“They don’t have a support system. We become that. It makes a difference for people to know they’re not alone. We have services available to them. We work with other organizations in the community,” Whipple said. “We work together to create a circle of care so they have the best chance of succeeding.”