While Oprah a no-show, namesake fundraiser successful for Genieve Shelter

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Since 2003, the Genieve Shelter has housed dozens of battered women and their children in its houses in Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight. Thanks to the dozens of visitors to the Shelter’s &uot;Soprah Bowl,&uot; benefit at the Holiday Inn on Pruden Boulevard Saturday evening, the Shelter, also celebrating its 18th anniversary, took a step toward opening a third abode.

With the help of a silent auction and a packed room of benefactors, the Shelter raised $10,000, on its way to the goal of $380,000 for the domicile that it hopes to open in late 2006.

In keeping with the event’s Egyptian theme, the tables of visitors (which later became teams in a trivia contest) were decorated with such names as Tutankhamun, Horus and Nefertiti, and awards were handed out in the form of small pyramids.

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&uot;It’s kind of symbolic,&uot; said Shelter executive director Val Livingston. &uot;We’re honoring people who represent good things, and the pyramids add to the specialness of the honor.&uot;

&uot;Soprah,&uot; she said, came from the one that the Shelter had hopes to attend the event.

&uot;We invited Oprah Winfrey,&uot; Livingston said. &uot;She inspired us. She went through tragedy and rose above it. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to come, but we kept her name, and we put an ‘S’ in front of it for Suffolk.&uot;

While lines of people checked out several tables full of silent auction items and sampled chocolates from across the globe, Shooting Star Gallery co-owner Brenda Wright prepared to receive her award.

&uot;This is about giving back to a community that’s been good to me,&uot; said Wright, whose business has given the Shelter population a place to relax after its annual vigil since 1998. &uot;I didn’t know that I had done anything to receive (the honor), but I thank them for it.&uot;

An emergency supervisor at the Western Tidewater Community Services Board, fellow honoree Nora Butler, is a two-time Shelter president and former board member.

&uot;I’m really pleased with how the Shelter has gone,&uot; said Butler, who asked that visitors to her bridal shower make donations to the Shelter instead of buying gifts. &uot;They’ve done a wonderful job assisting battered women. This is very exciting, because you don’t often get honored for the things you do.&uot;

Also honored were:

-Wendy Jones, who has made it a habit to purchase Christmas and birthday presents for Shelter residents for more than five years

-Gretchen Quant, the Smithfield High faculty advisor for the school’s Family Career and Community Leaders of America program, which provides desserts at the Shelter’s annual Christmas party and holds an annual food drive for the residents

-Modlin Printing, which provides copying and printing services to the Shelter at half its normal charge

-Smithfield town manager Peter Stephenson, who has helped the Shelter obtain several loans over the past few years and helped in the Shelter’s purchase of its Isle of Wight home in 2003

-Suffolk and St. Andrew Presbyterian Churches, which has provided food for the residents for eight years

For the second consecutive year, Kerri Furey, of WAVY news, got things rolling as the mistress of ceremonies.

&uot;I think it’s important that people have somewhere to go if they have to leave their home,&uot; she said. &uot;I was pleased to come back this year.&uot;

For more information on the Shelter, call 925-4365.