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 domestic violence shelter.
This year the party will be held at the Grand Center on Saturday, Feb. 15. The evening features a social hour, dinner, silent auction and dancing.
“It is a great community event. There is such a good feeling of camaraderie and engagement in a critical cause,” said Jaylyn Hawks, Seekhaven’s former director. Mike Gardner, who has worked as the director of client services for several years became the director in July 2012. Hawks continues on staff, focusing on fund raising and grant writing.
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.
Moab’s own Millcreek Station will play live music for dancing.
Three members of the eclectic rock band that plays numerous covers and some original material are in the Hawks family. Steve Hawks, who is also Utah State University-Moab’s dean, plays the drums. Jaylyn sings and plays the tambourine. Their son, Joseph, plays the bass guitar. They are joined by James Grantham on lead guitar and Grand County School District’s superintendent Scott Crane on rhythm guitar.
“We play some country, some rock and some newer stuff,” Hawks said. “There’s a good variety.”
Local chef Ken Moody is making a dinner that will include choices of salmon, beef tenderloin and chicken.
“He’s really making it an elegant affair this year,” Hawks said.
One of the night’s highlights is the silent auction.
There are all day passes to Lagoon amusement park, powerboat rentals on Lake Powell with two nights lodging at the Defiance House, jewelry designed by local artists, services and tool rentals. This year there is a four-person pass to Disneyland.
“There are a wide variety of things,” Hawks said. “We start mixing and matching things – like a dinner with a room and tickets.”
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.”
Seekhaven serves approximately 200 clients a year. Fifty to 60 of those clients may be housed in the shelter during a crisis.
“The remaining are served through our outreach program where they come in for assistance with a variety of supportive services,” Hawks said. “In addition, we field nearly 1,000 calls on our crisis/information hotline.”
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.”
Amy Whipple, Seekhaven’s education and outreach coordinator, Amy Whipple, said that despite increased education about domestic violence, it is increasing as Moab’s community grows.
“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. About five to ten percent of Seekhaven’s clients served in 2013 were men.
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’s support is there to help people recover from violence and build new lives.
“They often 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.”
Seekhaven’s annual Puttin’ on the Ritz supports local domestic violence shelter
“It is a great community event. There is such a good feeling of camaraderie and engagement in a critical cause.”
When: 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15
Where: Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West
Cost: $50 per person