Ian Wheeliker, Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter executive director, said the annual dinner and auction is one of the organization’s key fundraisers each year. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)

Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter looks to raise thousands at annual gala

The Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) hopes to raise at least $65,000 at its 23rd annual dinner and auction.

All proceeds from the event, which is March 16 at the Black Knight Inn, will go towards the shelter’s services for women and children who are trying to escape domestic violence.

The amount of money raised at the auction and dinner has declined in recent years, said Ian Wheeliker, CAWES executive director.

“It grew quite a bit in its first 10 or 15 years – the evening would raise upwards of $100,000. But we’ve been trending down over the last five years or so; now the gala and dinner raises between $60,000 and $80,000.

“It’s still a huge event for one night, but we knew we had to change it up a bit this year,” Wheeliker said.

The last couple years, the event featured a casino along with a live and silent auction.

This year there will be a four-course dinner, wine grab, draw for the WestJet Gift of Flight raffle and live entertainment from St. James’ Gate, a Celtic-Rock band based in Central Alberta.

“If you don’t change it up, it’s kind of hard to keep the community’s interest in the event. There are so many gala-type events, especially in February and March,” said Wheeliker.

Only 500 tickets will be available for the Gift of Flight raffle, where two round-trip tickets to anywhere WestJet flies can be won.

The dinner and auction is one of the most important fundraisers for CAWES each year, Wheeliker said.

“This fundraiser helps us meet the annual operational budget of the shelter,” said Wheeliker.

The annual Christmas campaign and Royale LePage golf tournament are also big fundraisers for CAWES, he added. A government grant covers about 70 per cent the organization’s costs.

Wheeliker has worked for a number of charitable agencies over the last 30 years. He said people are very generous with donations to CAWES.

“Central Albertans consistently express their care, compassion and concern for families that are affected by domestic violence. It seems to be top of mind to so many people,” he said.

Tickets, for individuals and tables, at the dinner and auction are now available.

For more information, visit www.cawes.com.


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