Bargains, big houses all for ‘Peace’ |

Bargains, big houses all for ‘Peace’

Greg Marshall, Of the Record staff

For diehard bargain shoppers, it’s an easy sell: Do good and get good deals.

Skis and lift tickets, artwork and custom cowboy boots are part of a smorgasbord of items that will be auctioned Tuesday, July 28, at The Yarrow Hotel to aid the victims of domestic violence in Summit County.

The Luxury Home Tour and Auction, which includes live and silent sales, benefits Peace House, a women’s shelter designed to support, empower and educate families fleeing abusive situations.

Tickets for the auction are less expensive this year, $30 ahead of time and $35 at the door. Cheaper, too, are tickets for the Aug. 8 home tour in Empire Pass. They cost $30 in advance and $40 the day of the tour.

The events, two of the biggest annual fundraisers for Peace House, are co-sponsored by the Park City Board of Realtors Philanthropic Foundation.

The auctions promise to have fewer small items and more big-ticket items compared to 2008, according to Sandra Vogt, who oversees the events. A basketball bearing Michael Jordan’s signature, a five-night stay in Maui and V.I.P. festival passes to Sundance occupy the symbolic top-shelf at the auction, which has been reorganized for ease.

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A painting of Peace House with a complementary poem by Summit County resident Terry Scopes is among the more endearing items.

Patrons will also be able to snag jewelry, sports equipment and gift certificates at competitive prices. "If you’re a bargain shopper, this is where you want to get your couches, chairs, and art," Vogt said.

Typically, volunteers auction tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise. Estimates have shifted downward with the economy, even as the need to rescue, educate and protect victims of domestic violence mounts.

Still, Vogt remains optimistic. "It’s amazing how much support we get," she said. "When it’s done and you see how much of a needed difference it makes, it gives you a really good feeling."

Realtors in Park City started the home tour nearly 20 years ago as a way to give back to the community. Vogt asks each of about 800 home-sellers to donate $50, a significant sum. Realtors also supply the lion’s share of volunteers, about 50, required to pull off the event.

Money from the auction and home tour comprises about 20 percent of the annual budget for the Peace House shelter, according to executive director Jane Patten.

The auction’s bottom line isn’t just about money. It is also a platform for sharing information. "Every year, I’m amazed how it can open the door for victims," she said.

Just as nonprofits such as Peace House feel the fiscal strain from the economy, so do families. Patten has seen an increase in the number of calls her organization fields. As wage earners feel more pressed during the economic downturn, they often take out their stress on family members.

With less disposable income, and fewer jobs, women may also feel trapped in dangerous situations.

The economy, a powder keg for some families, has thrown a wrench into the operations at Peace House, although Patten said the organization has not curtailed programs. Her job is to emphasize awareness and understanding of domestic violence in uncertain budgetary times. "It’s unpredictable," she said. "The only thing we know for sure is that our services are needed."

In addition to operating a shelter 24/7, Peace House offers a hotline for questions large and small about domestic violence. They offer art, and even pet, therapies.

Summer is a busy time for the shelter, which employs 14 part- and fulltime employees. Winter jobs dry up and fair weather makes leaving more plausible for some. "People may think they have no options," Patten said, but Peace House teaches families when and how to seek help.

Much of Peace House’s work happens in a preventative capacity, outside the walls of its shelter. Early education and prevention in elementary schools across the county has begun to pay dividends as the organization expands into more rural parts of the county.

"You can get help before the crisis," Patten urged. "Our best shot at ending domestic violence is with the children."