Community members are encouraged to observe April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month by helping HAVEN raise funds to protect and advocate for survivors of abuse.
For the 15th year, people can enjoy culinary specialties prepared by some of the best chefs in the area at “An Evening with HAVEN.” The event begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, 402 East Scenic Drie.
“We are going to be in a beautiful setting with lots of room so we’re going all out and will be using real dinnerware instead of disposable plates and utensils,” said Tara Koch, director of HAVEN (Help Against Violent Encounters Now).
“This is going to be a fun time for a good cause.”
She said people attending the fundraiser will sample cuisine donated by seven different vendors for a $35 ticket price. Chefs will be on duty that night from: Anzac Tea Parlor, Baldwin Restaurant & Saloon, Casa El Mirador, Class Act Catering & Café, Cousin’s Restaurant & Saloon, Montira’s Thai Cuisine and Petite Provence.
The Pines 1852 and pFriem Family Brewers are serving microbrews and wines for an additional charge.
Entertainment is to be provided by Smoke on the Water, a popular gorge band. There will be a live and silent auction of goods and services donated by area businesses and individuals.
Prizes include a “man bucket list” of tools, masjewelry, gourmet dining, massage and chiropractic care as well as recreational adventures, such as a wine tasting tour and a scenic flight.
One of the prizes has the HAVEN board shaking up martinis for eight in one-of-a-kind glasses that have been hand blown by local glass artist Andy Nichols.
The party where eight people can watch Nichols at work in his Sixth Street studio includes hors d’oeuvres and is valued at $1,350.
“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year and we are hoping to make $25,000-$35,000 for our programs,” said Koch.
She said people can buy tickets at the door but to ensure there is enough food, they are encouraged to call HAVEN at 541-296-2065 to sign up.
HAVEN serves Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam and Wheeler counties, as well as other communities in the Columbia River Gorge and the Warm Springs Reservation.
In 2014, the organization received more than 5,700 calls on the crisis line, an increase of 25 percent from the year before.
During the same time period, the organization, which also operates a shelter for women and children, provided services to 210 adult and teen survivors of sexual assault.
In addition, 1,026 adults and teens survivors of domestic violence, along with 132 children, were helped.
Ninety six teen survivors of dating violence received assistance, as well as 48 adult survivors of stalking.
“We are so diverse in what we do – we are a vital part of the safety net in this community and we are also looked at as a wellness center,” said Koch.
April is the national day to focus on the crime of sexual assault, which Koch said is a crime that can happen to anyone at any age.
HAVEN has tied teal ribbons around light poles in downtown The Dalles to raise public awareness about the problem.
According to statistics compiled by HAVEN, 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18 and 80 percent are under age 30.
Because the abuse is most often committed by someone the victim knows, it is one of the most unreported crimes in any community.
HAVEN, which was founded in 1981, seeks to prevent incidents of abuse through education of youth that focuses on consent, equality, respect, trust and safety issues involved in relationships.
In addition, the organization advocates for public policies to stop abuse and empower survivors.
More information about HAVEN can be found on organization’s Facebook page or website, haventhedalles.org.