By Joel Hall
For 25 years, Securus House has provided safety and support to victims of abuse. To raise money for its continued efforts, the family shelter will host its 25th Anniversary Gala at Fort Gillem's Getaway Club on Saturday, July 11 from 7 to 11 p.m.
Pat Altemus, executive director of Securus House, said that about 100 battered women and children seek shelter at the Clayton County facility annually. While state and local funds cover many operating expenses, the money raised by the gala will help with expenses not covered by grant funding, such as vehicle replacement and facility upkeep, she said.
"Contributions are down due to the recession," Altemus said. "We usually have individual donors send in money, but those sources are drying up. The success of the gala is very important to the success of the shelter."
Serving as host of the gala will be CBS Atlanta reporter Joanna Massee. The entertainment for the evening will be provided by rhythm-and-blues singer Gerald Alston, a member of the Grammy Award-winning group, The Manhattans, famous for such songs as "Kiss and Say Good-bye" and "Shining Star."
Last year's gala, a "Mystery Dinner Theater" event with The Henry Players, a Henry County-based community theater group, helped raised $7,000 for the shelter. Richard Highland, vice president of Securus House's board of directors, said the money, along with other donations, helped the shelter purchase a van to pick up and transport abuse victims.
"Things like that are important and wouldn't happen without the support of people from the community," he said. "We get money from the state and county which helps with operations, but there are many other things that are needed that can't be paid for with that funding."
With more funding, the shelter hopes to do more for male victims of abuse, whom by Georgia law, cannot be housed in the same facility as women and children after a certain age, Highland said. He believes the gala will not only bring much needed funding to the shelter, but will also give the shelter's efforts greater visibility.
"Our hope, always, is to raise awareness of domestic violence in the community," Highland said. "Through the activities that we have, we often make connections. You have to connect with all service organizations to be able to help victims effectively. You can't do that alone."
Altemus, the executive director, said the fact that the shelter has existed for 25 years is a testament to fact that it is a community necessity.
"The celebration is that we have been able to do this in Clayton County for 25 years, which is a large accomplishment," she said. "Many times shelters start providing help, but many times they can't continue because of funding reasons. If we have been here for 25 years, it means our services are truly, truly needed."
Tickets are $60 per person and $100 per pair. A silent auction is planned for the event, along with door prizes, food, and other entertainment. To purchase tickets or to inquire about sponsorship opportunities, call (770) 603-8131.
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