The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County serves victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes. And once each year, since 2003, it presents an opportunity for those who wish to support or learn more about the Crisis Shelter and those who benefit from its programs.
The annual event is called Dining for Good Living and is held at the Villa Banquet Centre by Medure’s Catering. Held each November and catered by Medure’s Catering, the event is known as the party that starts the holiday season. It’s also the Crisis Shelter’s most valuable fundraiser.
A Critical Role
To help victims, the shelter provides community-wide, on-site therapy, round the clock hotline services and victim advocacy. Filling out paperwork, being familiarized with legal procedures, even sitting with a victim through court processes or helping family members of someone who has suffered — these are all examples of essential needs the Crisis Shelter fills. There are 27 beds for those who need it and six units of transitional housing. Recently, the Crisis Shelter launched a program for victims of human trafficking.
“We help victims,” says Debby Hennon, executive director of the Crisis Shelter. “We will be with them, explain everything and hold their hand. We help them re-establish households and get established with a new life and a safety plan.”
Party with a Purpose
Community support is vital to the Crisis Shelter’s success. Fourteen years ago, board members Darlene Medure and Georgia Berner wanted to create a special occasion that would pull people together and teach them about the Crisis Shelter in a social setting. They decided to create a superb dinner party affair.
“They wanted to create an event unlike any other, specifically to attract people,” says Pete Medure, Darlene’s son and owner of Medure’s Catering.
Food and wine was a natural choice. Darlene and her husband founded Medure’s Catering in 1979. The original Dining for Good Living events started as a six-course dinner with wine pairings and sommeliers. It has evolved over the years. Today, there is much more interactivity with food stations helmed by culinary chefs, dancing and live music.
The 2016 food stations included tuna with shaved ginger on homemade roasted red pepper wontons, homemade pumpkin gnocchi with lump crab and heirloom tomato a la rosa and diver scallops with sage brown butter. The mashed potato bar is always a huge hit.
“It’s very seasonal,” Medure says. “And things are prepared right in front of the guests.”
All Dining for Good Living proceeds go to the shelter. Tickets cost $100 per person, but attendance is limited to keep the experience intimate yet lively. And fundraising goes beyond ticket sales. Community members create holiday wreaths that are auctioned off. Additionally, about 75 covered bottles of wine sit in a “wine tree” decorated to fit the holiday spirit. Participants can purchase a chance to select a bottle in hopes of snagging one of the high-end labels.
“The whole event is tastefully done,” Hennon says. “The tables are so elegant. It’s a gorgeous room, a fun event and a joyful time.”
An Event of Gratitude
While the event is spectacular, both Hennon and Medure agree that the real excitement comes from what it represents.
“My favorite part is just looking around and watching everyone interact. There are real things, good things, happening based on the fact of these people are in this room. It’s a ripple effect,” says Medure.
“I’m always excited to walk into that room and see what the ambiance is going to be.”
Hennon says thoughtfully, “People come to this event because they care. There’s a magical moment of deep gratitude that hits you during the evening. It happens every time, without fail.”