Each year Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc. (DVSS) holds its annual silent auction and fashion show to raise money and awareness for their efforts in helping individuals and families remove themselves from abusive situations. This year marks their 24th event, with a theme of “Southern Chic” set for two shows on Friday, April 1 at the Hilton Wilmington Riverside. Attendees will view trends making waves below the Mason Dixon Line.
“Garden party, prints, pastels, big hats, bow ties,” Lauren Daley, director of development and operations, uses as examples. “Our lunch and dinners are going to match that with fried chicken, short ribs, mashed potatoes, and things like that.”
While all the fashions are from Vintage Values, the shelter’s resale stores, this year also will feature a pop-up shop with household items to purchase from all three locations across Wilmington. “The stores will give kind of a glimpse of what we have available,” Daley continues. “Some people may not realize we have this wide variety of clothing there as well.”
At the end of each show, emceed by WECT’s Jon Evans, people will be able to purchase anything off the runway. Daley says 33 percent of their organization’s budget comes from Vintage Values sales, paying for programs and services they offer thousands of women, men and children annually. Last year the Domestic Violence Shelter served more than 1,300 people, including 1,100 women, 25 men and 181 children.
“It’s not the stereotypical ‘[victims] are just women,’” Daley says of the numbers. They span genders, as well as same-sex and heterosexual couples. “We really try to establish how each victim looks different and is at different place in each situation.”
As well, abuse can take shape in many forms other than physical. Verbal and financial abuse are powerful tools used. No matter the sex, age or situation, Daley says the shelter’s mission is always to be a safe place to support individuals. They provide emergency shelter at an undisclosed location; they have a 24-7 advocate on staff to answer phone calls; and their court advocate helps with protective orders.
Clients also receive vouchers to shop at Vintage Values stores to buy clothes for work and school, not to mention to help furnish household needs, like lamps, bed linens and so on. Daley says a victim shopping and choosing items helps provide a sense of normalcy during the recovery process.
“It’s another way to empower them instead of us just handing them items,” she adds. “It’s an opportunity to pick out what fits them, what they like and give them back that little bit of control in their life.”
Empowerment groups and children’s groups meet regularly; they have Spanish-speaking meetings as well. DVSS provide financial assistance for anything from an oil change to food or personal hygiene items. “Sometimes people just need a little help to get to the next step,” Daley says. “Every little bit helps.”
However great or small the need, Daley says their executive director, Mary Ann Lama, of 30 years always asks, “Who are we not reaching and what can we do to reach those populations?” Expanding their outreach has been crucial. They have an outreach coordinator, Andrea Stough, who is in elementary, middle and high-school systems. Stough also goes to UNCW and CFCC and works directly with their prevention specialist.
“We try to find different populations through a variety of health fairs and community festivals to provide information about our services as well,” Daley adds. “We’re lucky to have partnerships with many other organizations throughout the community: Coastal Horizons, Guardian Ad Litem, Legal Aid of NC . . . We have great founding members as well who have helped [monetarily].”
About a third of their budget comes from monies made via Vintage Values, another third comes from government grants, while the rest comes from donations and fundraising events. They have their “Fathers for Hope” event in June, but for over 25 years the fashion show leads as a fundraiser. Since its inception it has raised more than $525,000.
For years now Daley says they’ve split the fashion show into two events: a luncheon and dinner. Lunch will feature a plated seasonal salad with chicken and a true Southern-inspired dessert of butterscotch and peanut butter cheesecake. Dinner with be buffet-style, featuring crusted chicken, short ribs and mashed potatoes. The luncheon will start at 11 a.m., with their fashion show at noon, while dinner begins at 6 p.m. and the show at 7 p.m. Daley says it’s a way to reach more people who have diverse schedules and budgets.
“It’s the same show,” she assures. “We have a silent auction at each, so we’ll divide those items, [but] you get the same experience overall.”
Silent auction items include various artwork, Carolina Panther memorabilia, a necklace donated from Reed’s Jewelers, a perfume gift set from Belk valued at over $600, as well as a wine tasting from Wilmington Wine on Castle Street. Also, a variety of gift cards from business across ILM will be up for grabs.
Anyone interested in doing more than attending the luncheon or dinner on April 1 can inquire about volunteering. Last year volunteers put in more than 20,000 hours of their time. DVSS has opportunities with their next training session scheduled for August 27. Tickets to the luncheon, as well as donation and volunteer information, is available at www.domesticviolence-wilm.org/donate.