Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Advocates fund-raising event is 'magic'

Express Staff Writer

The 8th Annual Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence gala fund-raiser was held at Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge in Sun Valley, Sunday, June 26. The magic evening began with a silent auction and hors d'oeuvres. Men in black top hats sold magic wands for grab bags, the mother-daughter volunteer duo of Kim Petersen and Britt Nabbutt sold raffle tickets for a diamond watch and a Honda Element and the Idaho Falls Juggling Troupe featuring aerial dancer Christine Chen displayed their talents.

A cabaret was decorated for a champagne dessert, along with an introduction by Advocates for Survivors of Domestic Violence board members Charlotte Unger and Bryan Furlong.

"What a supportive group," Unger said. "Driving over, a volunteer spotted a rainbow that ended right over Dollar (Lodge)," which seemed highly appropriate.

The Advocates, the only domestic-violence and sexual-assault program in the Wood River Valley, offers shelter, bilingual and community programs, court advocacy, support groups, emergency assistance and training for professionals and volunteers.

Former Advocates client and current board member Jennifer Colver related her 20-year struggles with domestic abuse and how she has turned her life around with the help of the organization.

The raffles, live and silent auction and Fund-a-Dream, with Larry Flynn as the emcee, raised approximately $142,000, Advocates Director Trisha Swartling said.

"We raised more than ever from the Fund-a-Dream portion, which came after Jen (Colver) spoke. She was so real that it touched people."

The biggest bidding war came when Flynn auctioned off a Mama Inez dinner for 25 featuring musical entertainment by the Kim Stocking Band and service by the board of the Advocates. In the end, a generous mother bought the package for her daughter's 40th birthday.

Comic magician Fielding West completely amused the audience with a rousing and often saucy magic show that was heavy on the jokes and easy on the tricks.

When he called Advocates board member Joanie Whitcomb up to the stage to be levitated, he instead sawed her in half. When he pulled Cynthia Murphy up for female assistance, he asked her, "Have you ever worked with a magician before?" When she said "No," he retorted, "Well, this will be just like it."

Fortunately, the magic came from the generous audience, the work of the Advocates and the gratitude of the many women and children who benefit from those efforts.

"It was nice to end the evening with people laughing," Swartling said. "We had a really good crowd. If you have a good program, you can raise what you need."

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