Ball raises money for shelter

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, February 18, 2012

Suffolk police officer Benjamin DeLugo and his girlfriend Mary Rimasse attended the Suffolk Law Enforcement Ball on Friday night. The event raised about $3,000 for the Genieve Shelter.

Suffolk law enforcement officers ditched their uniforms for tuxedos, suits and formal gowns on Friday night to help out a worthwhile organization.

The Suffolk Law Enforcement Ball was held at the downtown Hilton Garden Inn and raised $3,000 for the Genieve Shelter, a Suffolk-based organization that helps women escape abusive relationships.

“We want to honor our police officers and fallen police officers, as well as give back to the community,” said Jesse Epperson, who coordinates the event through an official organization, Suffolk Law Enforcement Charity Events. “It’s a good time of fellowship and camaraderie.”

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The program was sponsored by William and Sarah Blair of Blair Brothers Construction Inc., as well as the Suffolk Police Officers Association.

Guests included both sworn and non-sworn employees of the Suffolk Police Department, the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office and the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Also in attendance were members of City Council and city administration, representatives from the Genieve Shelter and sponsors of the event.

“This helps us provide more services to our victims,” said Mary Williams-Davis, the executive director of the Genieve Shelter.

Shelter Director Lisa Montgomery agreed.

“It’s going to help in many ways,” she said. “I think the funds will help us provide hotel stays for families when the shelters are full.”

Williams-Davis added that knowing about the event will also help boost shelter clients’ morale.

“It lets them know that they don’t just have support from us, they have community support as well,” she said.

The evening included a buffet dinner, a slideshow of the police department’s year in review, a speech by Special Agent Mike Freeman of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office and a performance by the Blue Notes Band, which is made up of Suffolk police officers.

The guests bid on silent auction items and participated in raffles, which helped raise about $2,000 for the shelter. It was added to a $1,000 donation made in November to the Genieve Shelter on behalf of the Suffolk Law Enforcement Ball by Treasurer Ron Williams and the United Way Golf Tournament, for a total of $3,000.

The attendance of about 160 was up 20 percent from last year’s ball. This was the third annual event.

Epperson acknowledged the support of the Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Police Chief Thomas Bennett.

In addition to Blair Brothers and the Suffolk Police Officers Association, the event also was sponsored by Mike Duman Auto, State Farm insurance agents B.J. Willie and Ken Deloach, Davis Lakes and Campground, Deadly Commitment Calls, Kraft Foods, The Addison Group, Embroidery Etc. and the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union, Local 110.