Noun: An absurdly or surprisingly easy task.
Verb: Achieve or win something easily.
Neither of those definitions accurately defines the D/SAOC Cake Auction.
The amount of work involved along with a dedication to a cause does not make for an easy task. The event is not possible without months of planning for designated staff, namely Brenda McBride, who spearheads this event. Hundreds of volunteer hours are needed along with D/SAOC staff and the community who give cakes, prizes and attend each year to make this extravaganza come to life.
In the last 48 hours, it all comes together at the Webster County Fairgrounds. Cars are lined up with supporters dropping off cakes and prizes. We have gotten so large that we rent a truck to move everything we have at the shelter to the fairgrounds. Cakes are paired with prizes and gift cards are ready and waiting, the sound system graciously donated by Modern Sound is set up and music begins to set the pace. Dawn Farr begins her magic in the kitchen with her own group of volunteers and assisted by D/SAOC staff. Decorations go up as fast as the tables. The building is transformed and at 5 p.m. the day of the auction, Saturday, cakes and prizes are still arriving.
Somehow it all comes together as it has for the past 18 years.
This is my fifth Cake Auction and to me it is like a miracle. My favorite part is around 5:30 when the line waiting to get in snakes across the parking lot.
Remember last year when the wind was howling and rain was pouring down and still people came?
Don't forget we are a free event for the entire family with free admission, food and drink. We all get nervous and worried hoping for a huge turnout and then we look up and it is standing room only.
For D/SAOC it has to be a success. Revenue from this event funds two counselor positions for the following year. It isn't just fluff for us, but part of how we survive. We will survive and thrive in spite of unfavorable financial climates and loss of federal, state and local government support. We survive because of you.
So many of you have been touched by violence and experienced hardship. You have called us and we have been there. We do the right thing when no one is looking. My staff is unsung heroes. My volunteers are tireless. We don't know everyone and aren't recognized everywhere.
As I move through communities, there are many who have never heard about the D/SAOC Cake Auction. They have never heard about our confidential and free service to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and homicide. They don't know there is a shelter for victims of violence where they are safe and cared for, fed and clothed, begin the healing process from trauma and are supported when all other support is lost.
D/SAOC is that place of hope.
Those who meet us, learn what we do, listen to the stories, gain new empathy for victims and become new supporters. Pay attention to the program at the auction for just one of those stories. Each year our momentum grows, new relationships are formed and new friends made. For this we are so grateful.
The Cake Auction is so important to us because not only do we raise money, but also we make friends. Our communities gain awareness of the epidemic of violence in our homes. It is a rare and fortunate family that goes through life without being touched by violence either in their home, on campus, while traveling or just driving down the road and being randomly selected to be hit by a drunk driver.
Violence happens everywhere, at any time and we are called upon to support those impacted either as primary or secondary victims. Trauma impacts our lives and the lives of our loved ones. We cannot escape or avoid the effects of all the violence we are exposed to on a daily basis.
At D/SAOC, we experience that violence up close and personal daily. We depend on each other to get through the hard times. We are a family bound together by mutual experience and knowledge. We see too much and hear stories that should not need to be told. Nonetheless, we listen, support, believe and empathize. We help survivors pick up the pieces of their lives. All we ask is the communities we live in acknowledge their neighbors living in violence.
Don't turn your back, close your eyes or blame them for staying in a violent home. You cannot be expected to understand but don't judge. This might be their only choice. Show them you care by supporting organizations like D/SAOC. Get to know us and what we do. If you need us call.
Attend the D/SAOC 18th annual Cake Auction held at the Webster County Fairgrounds on Saturday at 5 p.m. Ask how you can help by calling 955-2273.
We don't expect everyone hearing our message can become a volunteer or give a donation, but when I am speaking to a group and I see confirming nods and the beginning of tears I know you are there. I know you understand and in a place where your own experiences are flooding back. Did you know one in three women experience violence in their lifetimes? Think of those odds. If a dreaded disease had those odds the money being spent to end that disease would pour in. Not so with domestic violence or sexual assault. It is like the plague to many. I would encourage you to ask yourself why society questions a women who stays in an abusive relationship and instead ask why someone hits, yells, threatens and otherwise feels they have the right to bully another human being into a situation they do not choose to be in but too afraid to leave.
We must focus our time on a fix for the violence and stop blaming victims for loving someone who does not deserve their love.Join us in the struggle by attending the Cake Auction.
Connie Harris is executive director of the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center.