Beth McCue, right, and Mike McCue, far left, celebrate at a Puttin' on the Ritz fundraiser for Seekhaven. [Photo courtesy of Jaylyn Hawks]

Never mind the fact that Seekhaven celebrated its 25th year of service to the community in 2015.

The local nonprofit group was so busy helping its clients last year that it couldn’t find the time to properly observe its first quarter-century in Moab, so it’s asking for a do-over. On Saturday, Feb. 13, the group and its supporters will be kicking up their heels at their annual Puttin’ on the Ritz gala dinner.

“Technically, this is our 26th year of service, but we didn’t get a chance to celebrate last year,” Seekhaven Executive Director Jaylyn Hawks said. “Things got out of control.”

The annual event, which begins at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 with appetizers and a social hour at the Grand Center, is Seekhaven’s only major fundraiser of the year.

On average, ticket sales, silent auction bids and other Puttin’ on the Ritz donations account for about 10 percent of its annual operating budget. Proceeds go toward its emergency shelter, crisis counseling and intervention services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assaults.

Due to fire restrictions at the Grand Center, Seekhaven capped this year’s attendance at 200 people – down by about four full tables from 2015’s gala. To make up for the loss, ticket prices for the dinner will go up from $50 to $60 per person.

Since donors are underwriting the event costs in full this year, Hawks said that every penny from ticket sales will benefit Seekhaven directly.

“It’s a terrific event because of the generosity of local donors,” she said. “If you’re looking for a good place for your $60 to go, the whole 60 goes to Seekhaven for operational support.”

It’s also the perfect pre-Valentine’s Day shindig for attendees who want to dress up in their finest attire, although casual clothing is also welcome.

Hawks’ band Millcreek Station will be performing on stage, and throughout the night, guests can bid on silent auction items from local artists, as well as three separate packages to Lagoon – the largest family-owned amusement park in the country. In one notable change this year, the silent auction will remain anonymous.

“So you won’t know if you’re outbidding your best friend,” Hawks said.

The hope is that bidders won’t hold back when they compete for auction items.

“They often hesitate if they know the person that’s trying to get it,” she said.

For dinner, chef Tim Buckingham of the Atomic Lounge and Moab Burger fame will be preparing his traditional menu, which includes buffalo meatloaf, barbecued pork and blackened catfish.

“It’s a great menu that locals will enjoy,” Hawks said.

While it’s heavy on entrees for carnivores, the menu will also feature several vegetarian-friendly options, including braised mixed greens and red potatoes.

“No one will starve,” Hawks said.

When revelers go home for the night, they can sleep well, knowing that their money will help Seekhaven’s staffers and board members implement their vision for the future.

At the time it began, Seekhaven offered emergency-only services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Former Seekhaven director and current board chair Stephanie Dahlstrom started to work for the group in early 1990. In those days, she still had to contend with routine skepticism and the once-common attitude that women “deserved” their partners’ abuse.

“We had a lot of support, but we still had to prove ourselves,” she said.

Fortunately, she said, the Moab Police Department became an instrumental partner, and the group was able to move beyond its confines under the local housing authority’s auspices. With continued support from the community and more funding over the years, it has since expanded its services.

“We are a solid organization in the county and the statewide network, also,” Dahlstrom said. “It’s getting better.”

Seekhaven’s resource center is now open five days a week to walk-in clients who may or may not stay overnight, helping clients build their job skills and find shelter. The group also offers educational presentations to local students, community groups and businesses.

Although Seekhaven is available to offer referrals to other resources, the nine-bed shelter doesn’t always have enough room on site to house women with young children who are looking for a safe place to spend the night.

“We have been turning people away from the shelter because of space issues,” Hawks said.

In the future, Hawks said the group will be reviewing its options to add more space.

“It’s time to address it,” she said.

Seekhaven’s gala fundraiser returns on Feb. 13

“If you’re looking for a good place for your $60 to go, the whole 60 goes to Seekhaven for operational support.”

When: Saturday, Feb. 13, at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Grand Center, 182 N. 500 West

Cost: $60 per ticket; all proceeds benefit Seekhaven

Information: 435-259-2229

The Grand Center is located at 182 N. 500 West. For more information about Puttin’ on the Ritz, call Seekhaven at 435-259-2229.