SMRC: Chocolate Lovers’ Fling, Overview

Double your giving! A local family foundation has gratiously challenged the nonprofit with a $20,000 match for the 2015 Chocolate Lover’s Fling. Scroll to bottom of post for links to donate and make an even bigger difference.

Valentine’s Day is all about celebrating healthy relationships: between you and a partner; between you and your friends; between you and you. And the San Miguel Resource Center, the Telluride region’s only domestic agency that deals everyday with interpersonal violence, is ultimately all about healthy relationships and happy endings.

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This year, the Fling takes place just one week before Valentine’s Day on Saturday, February 7, 7:30 – 11:30 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center in Mountain Village. The theme is “Arabian Nights.”

“Arabian Nights (alternatively entitled “One Thousand and One Nights”) is a collection of West and South Asian stories and folk tales, such as “Aladdin’s Wonderful Lamp,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “The Seven Voyages of Sinbad,” compiled in Arabic during the Islamic Golden Age and told by Scheherazade to her king, Shahryar, to prevent him from murdering her as he had 1,000 other young virgins killed after spending just one night with the ruler because, well, they were “spoiled.”

And while we are on the subject of dramatic examples of domestic violence…

It doesn’t matter where.

It doesn’t matter who.

Sexual assault and domestic violence ignore cultural boundaries, race, even gender – although women are more often victims than men. Fact is those twin horrors are equal opportunity offenders. And it turns out intimate partner violence is the most common form of abuse in women’s lives – much more than assault or rape by strangers or even acquaintances. So women – and yes, victims are most often women, not men, and children too – are more at risk at home than on the streets.

Interpersonal violence is a global plague – read one of many stories by Nick Kristof in The New York Times. Kristof is one among many outstanding journalists who consistently rail against such horrors all over the world, not acceptable anywhere.

Especially not in our own backyard.

In fact, the goal of the San Miguel Resource Center is to become so effective in the Telluride region, its services will no longer be necessary.

Now celebrating 21 years of community service, the Resource Center is all about eliminating domestic violence and sexual assault in our backyard through crisis intervention, education, and social change. It defines abuse as anything from a vague feeling something is wrong to physical assaults and worse – much worse.

Throughout the year, the San Miguel Resource Center (SMRC) works to raise awareness about interpersonal violence and the services available to those in need. The SMRC’s ongoing growth can be attributed to awareness efforts and community collaboration.

“We believe that more and more community members are learning about our services and seeking out the help they need,” said co-director Karla Gonzales Garcia. “We work to meet the needs of our clients through an expansion of our client services program despite the fact that requires an increase in staff hours. As we seek to increase funding to account for these changes, raising awareness about our community’s needs has never been more important.”

The Resource Center services include safe-housing, emergency financial assistance, advocacy and short-term counseling, medical assistance, and legal advocacy.

“We work with men, women, children, and loved ones of victims in San Miguel County and the West End of Montrose County, empowering clients to heal and move from victim to survivor,” said co-director Angela Goforth.

To facilitate this change, we will be forming a new Survivor Advisory Board/Task Force. This group will be made up of community members that identify as survivors of interpersonal violence. (Members do not need to be a client of the SMRC.) Members will have an opportunity to give-back, serving as a voice for survivors, offering the Resource Center feedback about how to make its services better.

“The SMRC relies on the greater Telluride community to promote social change towards peace, including support from professionals, individuals, and survivors of interpersonal violence. We concur with Helen Keller: ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,’” added Rachael Cooke, client services manager.

The Chocolate Lovers Fling: Unrestricted funds from the evening’s fun goes a long way

The Fling is an all-out bash featuring the region’s best professional chefs from venues as diverse as Mountain Village Market, Bon Vivant, Hotel Madeline, “221,” and Palmyra at The Peaks, who compete to create the most decadent chocolate desserts. There are prizes for Amateur Chocolate and Best Dressed, a silent auction, a 50/50 cash raffle, and dancing to the spins of DJ Harry.

Proceeds from the Fling, which, with all its moving parts, demands hundreds of man hours to cobble together, represent 1/3 of the Resource Center’s annual budget. Funds raised at the party, one of the biggest parties of the winter season, are particularly important because they are unrestricted.

Unrestricted funds – as opposed to restricted funds through grants from government entities, which come with strings – allow the nonprofit to meet the ever-changing needs associated with crisis response.

In 2013, client numbers were up 33%; by the end of 2014, the SRMC saw another increase of 10% of clientele, bringing a total of 43% incremental growth in the number of clients over the last two years, resulting in greater demand for services including financial assistance, safe housing, therapy, transitional housing fund, advocacy hours, legal accompaniment, and staff time in general.

More about the San Miguel Resource Center:

When it was first formed in 1992 by a group of locals, including Bev McTigue, Dr. Marshall Whiting, and Dr. Susannah Smith, the Resource Center was called Tomboy House. By 1994, Tomboy House had established a 24-hour hotline to help victims through crisis intervention and referrals. That year, the nonprofit served 28 clients.

These days, in addition to crisis intervention and a hotline for Telluride, Norwood, Nucla/Naturita, the SMRC provides a wide range of programs/services in English and in Spanish, including cultural outreach, advocacy to help clients with court and medical services, safe housing, preventative community education, and awareness initiatives, including a 24-hour hotline with trained staff and advocates are available 24 hours to listen, lend support, and respond in-person for crisis intervention; personal and legal advocacy for food, medical care, housing, transportation, access to community services, and throughout the criminal justice system process; emergency shelter and safe-housing for  victims/survivors of violence and their children; professionally facilitated support groups; resources and referrals to identify additional services and support available within our community here; child therapy assistance to provide access to art and play therapy for young people who are survivors of or witness to interpersonal violence; cultural outreach to offer culturally competent services to clients of different backgrounds; volunteer advocates, close to 85 volunteers who man the hotline; and prevention education, with visits to classrooms (preschool – 12th grade) throughout San Miguel County and the West End of Montrose County to teach children and teens a wide range of  life skills to prevent violence and abuse. In fact, the Resource Center offer interactive lessons on conflict resolution, bullying prevention, child abuse prevention, sexual assault prevention, healthy teen dating relationships and more, working to create the next generation of non-violence.

Ways you can help:

Attend the Fling Saturday, February 7.

Volunteer. Become a certified advocate or simply help with the many events that take place throughout the year such as the Fling. Learn about domestic violence and sexual assault. Education is the key to dispelling myths, ending the blaming of victims and preventing future violence.

And based on a recent announcement, the Resource Center just announced a unique fundraising opportunity.

A local family foundation has graciously challenged the nonprofit with a $20,000 match for the 2015 Chocolate Lover’s Fling. Any new money given will be allocated toward this match up to $20,000. To date, the Resource Center has received $15,450 in matching money. Please help them reach their goal! This is an opportunity to double your giving, which doubles the Resource Center’s ability to help victims in its region.

Your financial support can help the Center continue to create positive change in the lives of victims like Rea. 

“The SMRC was my sanctuary, it was hope. It was my strength when I was weak. Without their help, love, and support for my children and me, I am not sure where I would have ended up.  The SMRC never viewed me less than a beautiful, strong, courageous person… and eventually it rubbed off and I started believing it too.” 

If you have yet to give, double your impact while helping the Resource Center reach its goal. Call 728-5842 ext. 4#, mail your donation to P.O. Box 3243, Telluride, CO 81435 or donations can be made on our webpage at www.sanmiguelresourcecenter.org.  

Visit www.sanmiguelresourcecenter.org to learn more and to purchase your Fling tickets.

 

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Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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