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Gateway benefit will help lift up those impacted by violence
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The Gateway Domestic Violence Center is hosting its third annual Gateway to Hope benefit Saturday to raise money for the victims of domestic abuse.

The fundraiser will be at 7 p.m. in Brenau University’s Yonah Hall.

Gateway’s executive director, Jessica Butler, said the event will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, live music and a variety wines.

"One of our stations will feature some Georgia wines and we’re also going to have Vine and Cheese providing wine tastings and Home Town Spirits providing wine," Butler said. "So we’ll have tastings and options for beverages available."

The silent auction will include items ranging from vacations to sports memorabilia to art.

Butler said this is the organization’s most crucial fundraiser of the year.

"This is a very important part of our budget to help us provide services to domestic violence victims here in Hall County," Butler said. "Last year we raised $35,000, and we’re hoping to do that again."

Gateway Domestic Violence Center provides not only shelter but a number of services to the victims of domestic violence including support groups, life skills training, legal assistance and children’s programs.

The center also has a program for local schools that teaches children about domestic violence and what to do if there is violence in their homes.

"We’re trying to teach children early on — children in the school systems and children in our programs here — that violence is not an acceptable way to deal with issues," Butler said.

She said Gateway Domestic Violence Center serves about 1,300 women and children each year in Hall County.

"We’ve always had a pretty large demand for our services here in Hall County," Butler said. "In 2007, we saw that the average family stayed in the shelter about 30 days. In 2008, people were staying an average of 44 days, and we believe that’s largely due to the economic conditions."

Butler said Gateway’s main goal is to help victims of domestic violence start over, regardless of the state of the economy.

"In everything that we do, helping victims become self sufficient so that they can live in homes free of violence is our top priority," Butler said.

Tickets to the Gateway to Hope cost $75 and are available at the door. Attire is dressy-casual.

"This community has always been so generous to us so we’re grateful for that continued support," Butler said.