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Tri-County Help Center to host gala

T-L Photo/KAILEY CARPINO Chelsea Scott, executive director of the Tri-County Help Center, discusses the organization’s upcoming gala. It will take place from 5-9 p.m. March 2 at Undo’s in St. Clairsville. Tri-County Help Center to host gala

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — The Tri-County Help Center is hosting its first gala from 5-9 p.m. March 2 at Undo’s in St. Clairsville.

The event is open to the public and will feature appetizers, desserts, a cash bar, 50/50 raffles, a DJ and a photo booth. There is an admission cost, and the dress code is semi-formal.

Executive Director Chelsea Scott said she hopes to honor the history of the organization and everyone who has given their time or money to the center.

“The event is a celebration of the accomplishments of the Tri-County Help Center, the women who have helped build the Tri-County Help Center and recognizing and honoring the agency’s history. So anyone who has ever volunteered for, worked for, donated to or supported our agency in any way, is welcome to come. We’re holding it in March specifically because March is Women’s History Month, so we thought that that would be a nice theme,” she noted.

Scott said she is proud of her staff and wanted to host the event for them.

“We do hard work and listen to heavy stories of every person that walks through our doors and every phone call that we get. So it’s nice to be able to kick back and just enjoy an evening together,” she said.

Scott said some of the founding members of the organization will be speaking at the event. She also said the decorations and tables at the event will have special meaning.

“Each table and the centerpieces decorated at each table will show a milestone of the agency. So we’re incorporating historic photos, newspaper articles or programs that our agency maybe has had and does not have anymore. A couple of the tables will commemorate the group of officers and volunteers who started the agency. Our agency has had five executive directors, so we’ll have a table honoring each of them. We’ll also have tables for the teams that we have today, so our shelter staff, our advocates and our support staff. It’s just going to be a party,” she said.

Scott said the Tri-County Help Center is also celebrating its 45th anniversary.

“Being a grassroots organization is an accomplishment in itself, and the fact that we’re still here after 45 years and the advances that this agency has made is remarkable. There are a lot of nonprofit organizations that are social service agencies in this community, but not a lot of them have been established through a grassroots movement that’s been around for 45 years, and we don’t want to lose that history. I think that history is often the driving force of our staff and our advocacy and the services that we provide,” she said.

Scott said attendees do not have to RSVP and can pay either at the door on the night of the event or in advance by stopping in the office or providing credit or debit card information over the phone.

Sponsors for the gala include Whiteside Automotive Dealership, Linda Pickenpaugh and Felton Accounting and Consulting.

Scott said the organization was founded in 1979.

“There was a woman who recognized there was a need to help other women who were victims of domestic violence, and there weren’t any services or programs around to help them. So she reached out to a couple of other individuals who she thought might be interested in the cause, and they started the task force for battered women,” she said.

Scott explained that since the organization’s start in 1979, some of its funding has come from marriage licenses.

“Their seed money came from recently passed Ohio legislation for the marriage license law, which when you go to the courthouse today and you apply for your marriage license, you pay for that and a percentage of that fee goes to the local domestic violence agency, which is us, and we still today get that money,” she continued.

Scott said the organization provides unique and much-needed resources for the Ohio Valley,

“We purchased our shelter in 1986, and our shelter still exists today. It is the only shelter for victims in Belmont, Harrison and Monroe counties. We’re one of the few shelters in the state of Ohio that allows men in our shelter, recognizing that men also are victims of abuse. We are one of the few shelters that allows pets, recognizing that victims often will not leave an abusive relationship or their abusive home because of their pets. They don’t want to leave them behind, so we are one of the few shelters that accept pets,” she said.

The center also provides help and resources for people who have been raped.

“We are the only rape crisis center in Belmont, Harrison and Monroe counties. We provide 24-hour hospital accompaniment to sexual assault victims who would go to the hospital and need an exam. The hospital contacts us, and we provide an advocate there to provide emotional support and let them know what their rights are as a victim and safety plan with them, and let them know what their options are,” she said.

According to a press release from the organization, “Tri-County Help Center, Inc. specializes in trauma-informed services in Belmont, Harrison and Monroe Counties to individuals with mental health needs as well as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking through advocacy support, hospital and court accompaniment, mental health counseling, support group, case management, community education and information and referral.”

Scott said the Tri-County Help Center usually hosts a designer purse bingo fundraiser every spring.

“Because of this gala, we are pushing our designer purse bingo event to the fall,” she said.

More information about that event will be released closer to fall.

For more information about the Tri-County Help Center and its upcoming gala, call 740-695-5441 or visit its administrative office at 104 1/2 N. Marietta St., St. Clairsville. More information can also be found online at tricountyhelp.org or on the Tri-County Help Center Facebook page.

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