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Just a taste

Hilary Wendt serves up a plate of the infamous Chocolate Chicken Wings from Thai Taste at the Taste of Chocolate event last year in Carbondale. The event is a fundraising effort for the Women's Center.

CARBONDALE — Feb. 8 will mark a special milestone for the Women’s Center in Carbondale — it will be the 20th anniversary for its fundraising gala Taste of Chocolate.

The event has been particularly important in recent years as state funding was thin during the historic budget impasse, which saw little to no stop-gap money being released for domestic violence prevention, according to previous reporting in The Southern.

With ticket prices at $40, the event typically raises an average of $35,000 each year. However, John Pfeifer, development specialist with the center, said last year was the first year the event had made $40,000.

This year, he and the board are enthusiastic about what they can bring in.

The Taste of Chocolate, held at the Carbondale Civic Center on Friday, Feb. 8, provides guests with an assortment of chocolate treats, a cash bar and silent and live auctions. All the proceeds from the event go back to the coffers of the Women’s Center.

Pfeifer said that the center is funded by a combination of state and federal grant money as well as local donations. But, he said it’s this local money that gives the shelter the most flexibility, which is why the Taste of Chocolate fundraiser is so key.

To put a face on the issue, Pfeifer said the shelter currently hosts not just women, but also children.

“What they need as much as anything, as much as a safe place to stay, is a coat to wear and mittens and a hat,” he said, adding that this local funding allows them to be able to buy these items for families.

He said a big hope for this year’s fundraiser would be to have enough to install a new security system — replacing what he described as “yesterday’s technology.”

He said last summer there was an attempted sexual assault near the shelter. There was even a camera pointed right at the incident, however, Pfeifer said the quality was so bad there couldn’t be a positive identification based on the footage. A new system would rectify this, he said.

Tickets can be purchased online at thewomensctr.org or at the Carbondale Furniture King or The Women's Center. The event is for guests 18 years old and older.

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isaac.smith@thesouthern.com

618-351-5823

On Twitter: @ismithreports

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Isaac Smith is a reporter covering Jackson County.

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