Luxury Home Tour event 50 percent bigger than last year | ParkRecord.com

Luxury Home Tour event 50 percent bigger than last year

Greg Marshall, Of the Record Staff

Volunteers plan to auction $30,000 in furniture, $30,000 in original art, jewelry, ski-lift and golf tickets, scooters, designer clothes and shoes, imported rugs, winter apparel, even a children’s party, to aid the victims of domestic violence in Summit County.

More than 320 sponsors have donated about 700 items to the 2008 Luxury Home Tour and Auction of Park City. The annual live and silent auctions at the Yarrow Hotel will be held Thursday, July 31, from 5:30-9:30 p.m., to benefit Peace House, a women’s shelter to support, empower and educate families fleeing abuse.

Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Tickets for the Aug. 9 home tour cost $30 in advance and $40 the day of the tour.

The event is co-sponsored by the Park City Board of Realtors Philanthropic Foundation.

The 2007 auction raised $115,000 and comprised a quarter of Peace House’s annual budget, according to the nonprofit’s executive director Jane Patten.

For 2008, organizers predict to raise more than $140,000 despite the sluggish economy. Cash donations have been slow this year, organizer Ginny Schulman said, but the surge in sponsors giving merchandise should more than make up the difference.

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"The auction itself has become really important as far as raising money," Patten said. "It raises just as much, if not a little more, than the home tour."

Patten added that the auctions aren’t just about garnering money. They’re also about raising awareness.

She explained that as wage earners feel more pressed during the economic downturn, they often take out their stress on family members. With less disposable income, women may also feel trapped in dangerous situations.

Just as families feel the squeeze, so do nonprofits such as Peace House. The prices of food and gas have caused an increase in the cost of operating a women’s shelter open 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. "This is a critical time in our community with the economy and the increase of domestic violence," she said. "The community is very aware of our increase in needs."

Patten has been the executive director of Peace House for four years. She said the shelter is operating at three-quarters capacity. "The summer is always busier because children are out of school," she said, adding that the Peace House works closely with Park City School District to keep kids in school during resettlement. "The Park City School District is wonderful to Peace House," she said.

The shelter offers education seminars on safe dating, Internet dating and how to gain financial independence from an abusive partner.

"The auction helps us provide those services, but it also brings up the issues of domestic violence. It doesn’t matter what community it is in Utah. There is domestic violence."

Eye on a bargain

Altruism is important to attract buyers to the Luxury Homes auction, but it’s the prices that really sell the goods. "There are bargains at our auction," Schulman said. "A lot of bargains. It’s a huge variety of stuff."

More than 50 volunteers will be on hand to check visitors into the auction, help move, set up and display merchandise, pass out hors d’oeuvres, and answer questions. Add that to thousands of volunteer hours over the past 11 months and organizers pull off one of the biggest philanthropic events of the year.

"This auction really draws a lot of locals," Sandra Vogt, chair of the event, said. Vogt has volunteer for the Luxury Home Tour and Auction for the past nine years. "This is the best gifting of any year," she said.

About Peace House

Peace House hosts as many as 15 women and children at one time and supplies shelter, food and support for women to get back on their feet. Peace House is licensed by the state to provide case workers as well as some job training and placement.

"There are all types of domestic violence. It’s all about power and control," Patten said. "It can be physical control, emotional, financial. We do not require a woman to come to us with evidence of physical abuse. It doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse."

Patten said the shelter allows women to take control of their lives. "It used to be women would come only when it was a crisis," Patten said. "We want women to know they can get help before it gets to that point."

Patten said a family’s tenure at Peace House fluctuates with each case. The average tenure for women and families is 27-34 days. The organization encourages women to stay long enough to break the pattern of abuse. "What we try to do is allow women to stay as long as they’re becoming self-sufficient. We want them to learn those skills and plug them into the community."

For more information on the Peace House, visit peacehouse.org or call 1-800-647-9161. The Luxury Home Auction is Thursday, 5:30 p.m. at the Yarrow Hotel. For tickets to the auction, go to luxury home tour.org or call 658-4739.

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