A glowing September evening, some good eats, a chance to sample red and white wines and a group united in a cause – to provide a safe place so women or men who are subjected to domestic violence can get help.
That was Saturday night at the Alternative Horizons Ninth Annual Wine & Music Fest. Alternative Horizons’ motto is, “Alternatives to Partner Violence,” and its work is fighting a modern epidemic in America.
Come Monday, and, ironically, as I’m writing Neighbors, the breaking news of the day is the Baltimore Ravens’ release of Ray Rice and the NFL’s suspension of him after the video of him punching his then-fiancee, now wife, Janay Palmer Rice, in an elevator was made public. That’s making domestic violence the topic of the day.
My second thought on reading the news was that I hoped Rice didn’t go home and take out his anger on his wife. (The first was my anger that it took actually seeing the punch for the outrage to happen on the NFL side of the equation.)
My colleague Chase Olivarius-McAllister is working on an in-depth look at domestic violence in our area, so I won’t go too much in depth on statistics here, but let me just say that one of my responsibilities is listening to the scanner for breaking news. And without exception, a large chunk of the calls in Durango and in La Plata County have to do with either verbal or physical abuse.
Dispatchers try to give responding officers as much information as possible because not only is there danger of harm to someone at the home, but domestic violence calls can be the most dangerous calls for officers as well.
“Alcohol is involved.” “The parties are separated.” “There is a gun in the house.” “He (or she) has left the house and was driving south.” “She’s locked in a bathroom, but can’t leave the house.”
I asked Rita Warfield, a sergeant with the Durango Police Department and president of the organization’s board, what percentage of incidents are reported compared to the number of people who seek help from Alternative Horizons, and she said way more people go to Alternative Horizons. Which makes what I’m hearing on the scanner even more appalling, because apparently, it’s the tip of the iceberg.
I should also note how often a man is the protected party in a restraining order, proof that domestic violence, sexual assault or dating-violence and stalking can affect everyone, despite gender, income level or education background.
My personal philosophy about philanthropy is this: Everyone deserves clean water to drink, enough healthful food to eat and a safe place to live. Everything on top of that is gravy.
Alternative Horizons approaches the problem in several ways – individual and support group therapy, legal advocacy, community education (Apparently the folks at the NFL and the Ravens could have used some of that education) and a 24-hour hotline.
The volunteers who man that 24-hour hotline seven days a week are unsung heroes in our community. They undergo 30 hours of training, learning how to help victims create a safety plan and about the obstacles that make it difficult. (The next training starts Oct. 21. Call Loida Maez at 403-1577 to learn more.)
Alternative Horizons serves La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan counties as well as the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. It offers services in both English and Spanish and provides multicultural counseling. One size definitely does not fit all in this arena.
Now, enough with the philosophizing and on to the fundraising that will help Alternative Horizons continue its work. The Saturday event (moved from June when it had been held previously) was held at the plaza in front of the Powerhouse Science Center.
The centerpiece of the evening was a short “fairy tale” from a client who, at 63, has finally found both peace and joy with help from Alternative Horizons. Bracketing that were a wide variety of wine tastings courtesy of Eric Allen and Lesley Ponce of the Wine Merchant, which has provided the fruit of the grape part of the evening since the Music & Wine Fest’s inception.
No one went away hungry after dining on the array of delights prepared by Chuck Norton‘s Catering, including Swedish meatballs, grilled chicken in red chili sauce, chicken and walnut salad, egg salad with capers, baked Brie with raspberry jam en croûte, a lot of crudités and fresh fruit (always appreciated when there’s a lot of rich food on the menu), artichoke-green chile-cheese dip and, for sweets, Norton’s legendary bread pudding, brownies and lemon bars.
A wine toss and extensive silent auction brought in extra funds for the organization.
Jazz ensemble Actual Proof, the musical part of the evening, was smokin’ good. They often end up providing a backdrop to the schmoozing, when they’re worthy of an audience sitting down and just enjoying.
Alternative Horizons’ Executive Director Kim Zook introduced her staff, including associate director and program grants specialist Val Ross, therapist Darlene Brace-Torres, advocacy services coordinator Maez, legal advocate Shanda House and staff attorney Mandi McKinley. She thanked their significant others for putting up with them when they go home. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Before I leave this subject, if you are in a situation where you are not physically safe, the Alternative Horizons hotline is a good place to start getting help. It’s 247-9619. Call today.
Happy they didn’t melt during the heavy rains as they blow out their birthday candles are Ted Robson, Harold Jackson, Rap Fairley, Ben Nye, Peter Olson, Emma Wales, Rap Dunker, Ryan Meer, Gigi Baty and Anika Nelson.
And the end of August, Marilyn Garst and her coterie of friends and family presented what will be the last of a series of fundraisers featuring an intimate concert and multi-course meals based on the nationalities of the composers. This year’s theme was German music and cuisine.
There haven’t been a lot of these – maybe four or five – but they rank among some of my favorite fundraisers in memory.
Garst, who taught piano and harpsichord at George Washington University before she and her husband, Ron, moved to Durango, has a beautiful music room holding both instruments, where she can seat about 15 people. (I said it was intimate.) Her sister, Bonnie Mangold, an alumna of 38 years as a cellist with the Utah Symphony, comes to play duets, much as they did growing up.
This year’s program featured pieces by Felix Mendelssohn, Johannes Brahms and Robert Schumann. Because of a mix up on starting times, I ended up missing some of the music – I’m still kicking myself – but greatly enjoyed Garst on seven pieces from Schumann’s Carnival, Opus 9, and their duet on his Fantasiestücke, Opus 23.
Dinner, prepared with the assistance of Marilee White and Joanie Thomas, included bratwurst on rye rounds and cheese biscuits for appetizers with a salad of mixed greens with roasted beets, onion crumbles and lemon-dill vinaigrette afterward. The entrée was a beef brisket braised in porter with German-style fried potatoes and red cabbage with apples. Of course, it had to be German chocolate cake squares for dessert, with a second sweet of Bavarian cream with raspberry coulis.
Ron Garst worked with Eric Allen at the Wine Merchant to select German wines and beers to accompany the repast. I usually find Rieslings too sweet, but this one was delicious.
Nothing says happy anniversary like a bright sunny day, and it looks like that’s what these couples will be enjoying – Ken and Linda Hartlein, Greg and Beth Stelz, Jimmy and Jean Robinett and Gary and Cathy Jones.
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