By Tegan Kralio
This spring, Muscatine Center for Social Action’s Domestic Violence shelter will be holding its annual benefit, New Beginnings.
Jennifer Lierness, MCSA’s Resource Development Officer, says that it is a vital event for maintaining shelter services in Muscatine county.
“We can’t sustain ourselves on the small fundraisers alone, so between United Way and the annual fundraiser, that’s what keeps [the shelter] open,” she said.
Last year, the New Beginnings fundraiser had around 215 attendees, and it brought in close to $70,000 for the shelter.
Lierness said their goal each year is to simply outdo what they raised the year before.
“We’d love to see it increase,” she said. “We raised ticket prices this year because we keep selling out, and we thought if we keep selling out we’ll compensate for that and take the ticket prices up. I guess our goal is to just keep increasing and adding new features. We do a lot of raffles, there’s a live and silent auction, and door prizes.”
Many of the items in the raffles and auction are donated by local businesses. One special item donated each year comes from Isabel Bloom out of Davenport.
“They do a special purple edition for us each year,” said Lierness.
Last year’s statuette was of a bumble bee, but she says they haven’t yet made this year’s special edition Isabel Bloom public.
“We usually wait to do an unveiling when we know what the piece will be… But they’re really kind in the fact that they do a purple version, since purple is the domestic violence color, and then they make a large piece for our live auction, which is a special edition, one of their larger statues,” she said.
Fundraiser attendees can look forward to this one-of-a-kind Isabel Bloom in live auction, which will be engraved with New Beginnings and the year of the benefit.
The money raised will accommodate shelter guests in many ways. According to Lierness, when people come to New Beginnings, they can decide if they want to participate in a sponsorship, and that money is used specifically for women and kids on their journey to self-sufficiency.
“The New Beginnings sponsorship can pay for, for example, if an abuser were to withhold the woman’s social security card or her identification, that money in that fund can help replace those items for her or her kids,” she said. “A lot of the times their partner will keep that information as a way to keep her around.”
She said it can also be used for shelter operations: maintaining the shelter, keeping it open and staffed 24/7, and supplying food, clothing and other services.
“I want Muscatine to know that in 2018 the shelter served 70 individuals, including 32 children,” said Lierness. “That’s 32 kids, teenage and younger, that were able to stay in the school that they currently attend, keep their friend groups, stay in town where they know people, and they were able to keep some consistency in their life during that change.”
She also said that over the holiday season, the shelter protected around 20 people, and that if it kept up at this rate, they would need support to meet the sustained need.
“If the fundraiser doesn’t turn out, it would put [the shelter] at risk of not being able to keep the doors open… it would affect the women that stay there and what would be available for them.” Said Lierness. “We’re really proud, and it’s not just me obviously, it’s the rest of the MCSA staff and our committee, but we know that because of this fundraiser it’s the only reason we can keep operating our domestic violence shelter.”
The 18th Annual New Beginnings Benefit for the MCSA Domestic Violence Shelter will be held on April 4 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at Geneva Golf and Country Club in Muscatine.
Tickets are $75 and registration deadline is Friday, March 20. Go to mcsaiowa.org/dv to register or call 563-264-3278 for more information.
Woman and families in need can call the 24/7 Domestic Violence shelter Crisis Line at 563-263-8080.