By Brandi Underwood
The aromas of barbecue, baked goods and blueberry wine mingled in the air with the sound of the banjo Friday evening at the Little Black Dress event at Daniel Vineyards.
The fundraising event, hosted by the Women’s Resource Center, raised money to help the center continue to provide free and confidential services to victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Raleigh, Fayette, Nicholas and Summers counties.
More than 160 advance tickets were sold for the event, which was in planning for nearly six months, said Dee Sizemore, WRC public relations and fundraising development coordinator.
Sizemore also added that 2013 marked the Women’s Resource Center’s 30th anniversary, making this year’s event particularly special to the center.
With preliminary numbers for 2012-2013 fiscal year revealing more than 3,000 domestic violence cases and more than 200 sexual assault victims in the four-county region, WRC Executive Director Patricia Bailey asserted the importance of the WRC’s cause.
“36 women died due to domestic violence in West Virginia this year. That’s 36 too many,” Bailey said.
Bailey hopes that with continued community awareness and support, violence against women will one day come to a stop.
With recent funding cuts to social services, the WRC needs more community support in order to continue providing their services, Bailey explained.
The WRC has fundraising events yearly. For the past five years they hosted “Chair-ity Night,” auctioning off hand-painted Adirondack chairs.
2013 was the comeback year for the Little Black Dress event, however, which has been held in the past.
Frances Hemstreet, of Sha-dy Spring, has been coming to WRC’s annual fundraiser for the past four years.
“I love it,” she said. “I won’t miss it for anything.
“It’s not only a good thing because it helps get support, but it’s even more special when you’ve personally been touched by it, knowing that your friend or relative has a safe place to go,” Hemstreet said.
Several local residents and business owners aided the cause by donating gift baskets and prizes of all assortments to be raffled, auctioned and given as door prizes.
The Songcatchers and Lady D provided the tunes, while Dickey’s Barbecue, The Amish Barn, Dobra Zupas, The Bake Shoppe and Pasqua-le’s provided food samples.
Sponsors included Horizon Medical Health Center, The Kyle Group, Moore Insurance Services, John Howerton Honda, Beckley Online, Southern Communications, Vaught Neurological Services, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, The Register-Herald and the Rejuvenation Center at ARH Southern West Virginia Clinic.