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Nonprofits: Chairs take front seat in benefit for women’s shelter

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Love is in the air this weekend. Next weekend it will be in the chair.

Organizers of an auction to help fund the expansion of a safe house for domestic violence victims believe there is enough love to go around. “Love is in the Air” is billed as a “chair-ity auction” and features furniture painted by local artists. The pieces will be auctioned Feb. 21 at Inlet Affairs by Stuart Whitehurst, an appraiser who has been a regular on the PBS series Antiques Roadshow since its debut.

“We really need everybody’s support in this,” said Anne Hartsell, one of the organizers.

The event started with Drinking Liberally, a progressive – yet non-partisan – social group, that wanted to help expand Freedom House. The facility is a safe haven for women and children who are victims of domestic abuse. The house is operated by the Family Justice Center, but owned by the Georgetown Housing Authority.

The committee got help from Friendship House and United Way with handling funds. Habitat for Humanity will manage the expansion. There was no need to start a separate non-profit to support Freedom House, Hartsell said.

“All we’re doing is raising the money,” she said. “That relieves the Family Justice Center of the responsibility.”

Businesses and individuals donated 45 pieces of furniture, mostly chairs, but also tables and shelves. The organizers recruited 30 local artists to decorate the items. They are now at Harvest Commons for auction-goers to preview.

Whitehurst, who has worked for Sotheby’s in New York and Skinner’s in Boston, now lives in Florida, but has friends in Georgetown. He’s donating his time for the auction, Hartsell said.

The goal is to raise $50,000 to add a bedroom and bath, a communal living room and a counseling space to the shelter. “I hope it won’t cost that much because Habitat is going to be supervising the volunteers,” Hartsell said. Any funds left over will go to the Family Justice Center for operations.

The cost is $75, which includes food and live entertainment. There will be a cash bar. Tickets are available at freedomhousegtown.com.

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