About 250 people packed the ballroom at the Lafayette Hotel Friday evening for the 32nd annual EVE, Inc. Benefit Auction, and though attendees said the event is always a great time, the auction also serves a larger purpose.
"They help women, they help children, and they help men too if the need is there," said Sharon Lankford, a Marietta resident who spent the evening as a volunteer selling raffle tickets. "The main thing is that they fill that need in the community."
Employees of EVE, a nonprofit that provides housing, support and services for victims of sexual and domestic violence, said the auction typically brings in about $20,000 to $25,000. This year, there were about 250 items in both the silent and live auctions combined, and the organization reported raising about $28,000 by the time the auction finished.
JACKIE RUNION The Marietta Times
Parkersburg native Sara Taylor, the 2014 Pure American National Miss Sweetheart, displays a necklace from Goldline Jewelers for potential bidders at the 32nd annual EVE, Inc. Benefit Auction Friday evening at the Lafayette Hotel.
"This is our major fundraiser for the year, and every $1 bid here is matched by about $3 more in grants," said chairwoman Molly Varner. "And those grants go toward specific services that EVE offers, with our shelter, counseling, advocacy groups and the hotline we run."
Varner said the grants are vital to the nonprofit organization, but there is always a need for more.
"This is a jigsaw of needs that all these things fit together to cover," she said.
EVE, Inc. 2014 Award Winners
Friend of EVE: Belpre Women's Club.
Volunteers of the Year: Student volunteers Eden Wisenberg, 14, of Marietta, and Josh Carroll, 14, of Fleming.
Employee of the Year: Suzan Caroll-Decker, on-call supervisor.
Items that went to the highest bidder Friday night included a Warhol-style painting of Lady Gaga painted by a Marietta High School alumnus, a handmade quilt, several pieces of jewelry from local merchants and a range of certificates for different services, from hotel stays to spa treatments.
Neal Offenberger and his wife have made the trip to the annual event from McConnelsville every year for the past several years.
"We're willing to make the trip and we're willing to spend some money," he said. "There's usually something I have my eye on."
Marietta resident Charlene Bonnette and her husband shared a table Friday evening with her brother, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks.
"We get the invitation from him because he's my brother, and we always enjoy ourselves," she said. "A lot of people need this help at different times in their lives."
A member of the First Baptist Church, Bonnette said it takes a community to provide a great range of services like EVE.
"With our church, we've helped people that come out of EVE find housing after they leave, and we give a lot of goods and take them to the shelter," Bonnette said. "But this auction does the rest."
Belpre resident Randall Perry said the Washington County and surrounding communities are lucky to have EVE around.
"It fills a necessary spot to help people in need, and we need it," he said.
From cornhole games to furniture to one-of-a-kind jewelry, Perry said the auction allows a big window of opportunity to raise needed money.
"We're always willing to participate, and bidding can get competitive," he said. "It always depends on what's there and who's bidding, but it's fun and it's going to a good place."
EVE also recognized and gave awards to volunteers and staff who EVE President Steve Highland said went "above and beyond the call of duty."
The award for Friend of EVE went to the Belpre Women's Club, which collects items to donate to the shelter, and the Volunteer of the Year Award was split between two 14-year-olds, Eden Wisenburg of Marietta and Josh Caroll of Fleming, who both spent time over the summer helping out with the organization.
"They gave up most of their summers to help us out, and they really did a lot," Highland said.
EVE employee Suzan Caroll-Decker was awarded Employee of the Year for her work as an on-call supervisor.