Suffolk readies to Paws for the arts

Published 9:00 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

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Suffolk Humane Society is gearing up again to put their paws up for the annual Paws for the Arts gala, set for 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront. Tickets are $50 and are available to purchase online or at the door.

Established in 2014 by Former SHS President Rhonda Duman Jones, who passed away after a battle with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, the gala continues to celebrate the arts and the well-being of animals in its 9th year. Suffolk Humane Society Executive Director Kerri Shallcross gave details on the gala, noting that attendees can expect live and silent auctions for local artwork as well as a special ballet performance.

“We are doing [things] a little different this year and from 5:30 to 6:30, we are going to have a cocktail hour and the Hilton Garden Inn’s chef is actually going to prepare a signature cocktail for us,” Shallcross said. “And during that time, we will have the Cornerstone Ballet doing a few performances for us.”

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Mayor Michael D. Duman will once again be in attendance for the gala and will serve as the event’s auctioneer. Shallcross also says that they aim to have prizes for families, including artworks, such as restaurants and trips for their auctions.

“We love our art. We love our art pieces and we love all of the artists in the area that do send us sculptures and paintings, but sometimes people don’t have a need for that particular piece where we can do some type of event or adventure, then that gives a little bit more options for other people,” she said.

Last year’s gala, the first since COVID, doubled its turnout while exceeding its $35,000 goal. Shallcross says they aim to double their fundraising efforts to $60,000 and hope to have over 200 attendees still.

“It’s always a great night when all of our [sponsors] can bring their guests with them, and then just everybody that’s in the community that’s interested in coming, they can purchase tickets separately. They are $50 each to come and again, it does include the heavy hors d’oeuvres and the beer and the wine. It gives them a chance to see all of the exciting things we have,” Shallcross said.

Shallcross detailed that sponsorship levels are still available on the Suffolk Humane Society website: Picture “Purfect” Picasso for $250, Visionary Van Gogh for $500 and Monet Masterpiece for $1000. Residents can donate or become a member of SHS to support SHS and its efforts further.

“Having yearly donations — not just at once a time, come in and auction items for sale — but to be able to guarantee and count on the support for years to come is very helpful so that we know that we can continue striving and continue helping the public in our community,” Shallcross said. “A lot of people don’t realize that other than just the animals, we do help Suffolk residents that are in need for animal supplies, food, medical [options]. We have our BARKS program to help kids learn to read and then we have our Therapy Dog program, which goes into nursing homes and hospitals and to the schools for the kids to read to them, which brightens the days of a lot of people. So we need the funding to keep those programs going.”

Likewise, Shallcross hoped attendees would have a “fantastic evening” at the gala.

“Everybody comes dressed your best, whatever that means to you, and just have a wonderful time celebrating the arts, the ballet, the artists that are coming in, and just us being able to gather together,” Shallcross said.

For more information and to buy tickets or sponsorships, go to