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Central Coast non-profit turning to virtual fundraiser to help survivors of sexual and domestic abuse

Posted at 9:25 AM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 14:47:21-04

The financial impact of the pandemic is trickling down to local non-profits, like RISE SLO, that are struggling to find funds.

Organizations like RISE, which helps survivors of sexual and domestic violence, depend on donations. But many usual donors no longer have the spare change to give.

What would have been the sixth year of Wine, Women and Shoes will now be a virtual experience, thanks to COVID-19.

The event, described as fashion-forward fundraising, typically features a runway show, decadent food and drink, and a toast to a good cause.

RISE SLO generally brings in about $80,000 from each event, which is essential to its services, everything from crisis intervention to treatment to shelter.

The financial toll of the pandemic is putting pressure on non-profits across the country. But according to RISE, its crisis hotline received a 30 percent increase in calls last month, evidence that its services are more needed now than ever.

"It's a tough time to be out asking for money but at the same time, our mission is so critical that we're driven and compelled to continue to make our fundraising events successful," Stacy Salame, the director of development and marketing at RISE, said. "There's been an increase in sexual assault and domestic violence due to the pandemic and the isolation and stress that causes on relationships so, in spite of the challenges, we are driven and excited to host this event."

As a result of the pandemic, RISE was forced to cancel its inaugural rise up SLO County fundraiser in March.

Now, the attention is focused on Wine, Women and Shoes, which is shifting heavily this year to social media engagement.

Virtual party-goers can purchase tickets that include access to the online event, a watch party box complete with wine, and even raffle tickets.

RISE is looking for what it calls "Solemates" which are volunteers who can help fundraise for the event and drop off supplies for participants.

The Wine, Women and Shoes event is scheduled for Sept. 13 and tickets can be purchased online.