CARING COMMUNITY: Hope Center raises $7.6k despite wet, gusty weather

Cody and Heidi McCullough receive the Best Dressed Couple award from Samantha Bishop at the Converse Hope Center's Black & White Ball/Cocktail Party Nov. 5. (Cinthia Stimson / Glenrock Independent photo)

Cinthia Stimson,

Sustained wind gusts of 45 miles an hour did not stop the intrepid men, women and kids who strode through the doors of the Ft. Reno Building on the Wyoming State Fairgrounds Saturday night, decked out from head-to-toe in predominately black and white dress clothing.

These folks were on a mission – to raise $7,650 for crime victims – and, they did just that.

The Converse Hope Center’s Black & White Ball Cocktail Party Saturday night was underway. While there were not as many people in attendance as there were the last two years – just 70 guests Nov. 5, it was evident from the laughter and smiles being shared that the partygoers were exactly where they wanted to be in that moment.

CHC Board Chairwoman Karen Rimmer spoke at length about what the center does for women, men and children within the county, as well as recognizing recent large donors to the nonprofit, including Crestwood and Jomax, who donated $30,000 each.

CHC empowers victims of crime and inspires hope through crisis intervention, advocacy, prevention, youth programs and survivor support services.

“Money from the event, and donations like Crestwood’s and Jomax’s, are unrestricted funds. Meaning it allows us to use the funds for things like hygiene kits and maintenance on the emergency shelter we bought two years ago. When victims are in crisis and have to get out of a situation, they may have nothing at all, not even a toothbrush. (These funds) help us help them,” she said.

The center also assists with things like first and last month’s rent, a security deposit and furniture when getting a victim set up with a place of their own, another board member said during the event.

“I think it’s important to think about this as advocacy for survivors, and prevention and awareness, so there aren’t more people victimized this way. It happens to men as well as women and children. The important thing is for people to know that they can talk about it. It can’t be hidden anymore – it can’t be a secret. It does affect Wyoming and it is still a problem today,” Rimmer stated.

From Jan. 1 to date, CHC has served 115 clients for a total of 4,111 services in Douglas and Glenrock, including 1,382 personal advocacy services (accompaniment to emergency room, interviews with law enforcement officers, individual advocacy and more); 20 family violence protection orders filed/13 granted; 24 stalking protection orders filed/23 granted; 325 crisis-related services (hotline, on-scene and safety planning); 201 shelter services and 191 transportation services to court, doctors and others.

CHC Executive Director Richelle Balcazar said the funds brought in during the annual event are used to help fill in the gaps where other funding is lacking.

“This fiscal year statewide every program like ours took cuts, due to lack of funds. Ours cut was $36,000. While the City of Douglas and Converse County helped reduce this gap, fundraising fills in the rest. Funds from this event will help us pay for operational expenses such as shelter operations, shelter repairs/maintenance, emergency financial, as well as training for advocates to ensure we are providing quality services,” Balcazar said.

This year’s get together was a change from previous years in that a formal sit down dinner was nixed in favor of a huge charcuterie board and drinks.

“I really enjoyed that (it) felt very laid back this year. We received several surveys from people saying that was a big plus for them. I would like to thank those who donated, sponsored and attended the event; I would also like to thank our communities as a whole. We have received so many donations over this last year – clothing, hygiene items, furniture, paper products, you name it. Your help and giving hearts have changed so many lives and we cannot thank you all enough. I’m also grateful to our staff, they have worked so hard this year – especially Kassie and Nikki,” she said.

Heidi and Cody McCullough won the best dressed couple award; Rudy Towman received the best dressed man award; Clare Taylor was named best dressed woman of the night; and Jessica Newberry was the recipient of the Giving Thanks Award.

Rimmer said she also wished to mention to musician AQUILE for saving the evening’s entertainment that night.

“Our booked entertainment canceled at the last minute. AQUILE came through for us and he was incredible,” she said.

“It really was a great night. The highlight for me was how all of the board members and staff pulled together. It was fun. We wanted it to be relaxing. It was,” Rimmer said.


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

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