TELLURIDE – Last year was a big one for San Miguel County Resource Center, the Telluride-based nonprofit offering multiple services and support to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in San Miguel and on the West End of Montrose counties.
In addition to celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2013, and with its popular Chocolate Lovers’ Fling fundraiser right around the corner, SMRC experienced a spike in demand for its services, which include a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency shelter, support groups, art therapy and prevention education in and out of the classroom.
“We helped 33 percent more victims of domestic violence and sexual assault [in 2013] than in any year in our history,” said SMRC Director Melanie Montoya. “I kept saying, ‘it will slow down,’ but it didn’t. Fortunately, people aren’t suffering in silence and are coming to us to get the help they need.”
SMRC met the needs of 292 victims in 2013 with the same budget and staff as previous years – not an easy task, according to Montoya.
“It was just a huge year for us. We were able to serve so many more people thanks to the incredible staff we have here,” said Montoya.
Two-thirds of SMRC’s budget is comprised of federal, state and private funding and grants. The bulk of the remainder, roughly $110,000, is generated from the annual Chocolate Lovers Fling, which is on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 7:30 p.m.-11:30 p.m. at the Telluride Conference Center.
“The money we raise at the Fling and other events is so crucial to SMRC, because while we’re so grateful for these grants, they’re always dedicated for specific purposes,” said Montoya.
“The money we raise at the Fling helps us be more agile in addressing our needs, which is sometimes spontaneous,” she continued. “That’s the thing about working in a crisis center: we address crises when they arrive. We can anticipate that we’ll need to treat them, but we never know when they’ll arise or what they’ll be.”
In addition to being SMRC’s most important fundraising event of the year, the Chocolate Lovers Fling is a gala affair, and one of the winter’s most popular social events.
In conjunction with the Winter Games in Sochi, this year’s Fling is Olympics-themed, and cash prizes will be awarded to the best-dressed. Fling partygoers can also enjoy thousands of bite-sized chocolate creations from the region’s premier chiefs, bid on a trove of silent auction items and then dance the night away to the pulsating sounds from DJ Harry.
VIP tickets to the Fling are also available, and include access to a private bar and lounge with unlimited drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
Fittingly, it takes place just before Valentine’s Day, Montoya said. “We’re putting it out there that we’re promoting love and healthy relationships and celebrating those things as a healthy community. People love this event so much that some years, there’ve been as many as 800 people in the conference center,” she added. “We are hoping for a great turnout.”
Tickets for the Fling are available at Two Skirts or online at www.sanmiguelresourcecenter.org.