The deep red cloth was strewn from the ceiling. The white orchids in gold bowl centerpieces sat gracefully on the tables. The silent auction items were placed strategically on the display tables. The mouth-watering smell of the steak medallions and risotto filled the air. The festive music and laughs could be heard through the hall to the main lobby.
The 26th Annual Hope and All That Jazz was said to be the best Jazz ever.
“I’m just worried now how we top this in 2016,” said Stefanie Shanks, Hope House special events manager. “I’m ecstatic that the guests had such a great time. The music was great. Everyone loved the auction and bidding through their phones. The live auction was exciting. I couldn’t be more thrilled that everyone had a great time.”
The evening began with cocktails and appetizers during the silent auction period. The auction featured items such as sports memorabilia, artwork, food and wine, trips, a frame with two autographed photos of the legendary B.B. King, a grill master’s barbecue set, and much more. Attendees were able to walk around, having a great time visiting with friends rather than hovering over silent auction paper bid sheets.
“This year, we did mobile bidding,” said Shanks. “This allowed participants to go wherever they wanted during the silent auction, because all they needed was their smart phone. We received so much feedback about this, and we’ll definitely be doing it again next year.”
Once the silent auction was over, guests entered the ballroom, where dinner was served. The options for the evening were steak medallions with seafood cake and roasted tomato and peppers, or vegetarian risotto cake with spaghetti squash. Dessert consisted of a chocolate truffle mousse terrine with passion fruit crème brulee.
After dinner, the evening’s emcee, Kris Ketz of KMBC-TV9, welcomed everyone to the 26th annual benefit and turned it over to Hope and All That Jazz 2015 Chair Peter deSilva of UMB.
“Domestic violence of any kind is a stain on this and every other community in America,” said deSilva. “As a society it should be a top priority to eradicate domestic violence in all of its ugly forms. Given that we will unfortunately not likely eradicate domestic violence completely, the next best thing to do is to fully support those affected by it.”
DeSilva was then joined on stage by Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny, who introduced former Independence Mayor Barbara Potts. Metheny then awarded the Blue Springs Police Department with the annual Barbara Potts Award.
“The Blue Springs Police Department understands the seriousness of the crime of domestic violence and has contributed to the change in culture in how victims are treated and abusers are held accountable,” said Metheny. “In 2011, they agreed to participate in the Lethality Assessment Program, which provides a more comprehensive approach to how domestic violence incidents are handled on the scene.”
Once the award was presented to Blue Springs Police Chief Wayne McCoy and Domestic Violence Det. Anda Offenbacker, the evening’s keynote speaker provided her remarks on her own personal domestic violence relationship.
“I was very young – in my teens as a matter of fact – when I became a mother and got married,” said CiCi Rojas, president and CEO of the Central Exchange, and former Hope House board chairperson. “I found myself with three small children and caught in a very abusive marriage, very simply because of pride and wanting to provide a home for my children with two parents.”
Worried about their disappointment, Rojas hid the abuse and shame she felt from her parents and friends. Soon, her abusive husband would discover her intentions to leave and beat her to the point of unconsciousness.
“I knew I had to escape for me and my children,” she continued. “I had to regain my confidence and my self-worth. So, I set out to change my life. There are many women and children that benefit from Hope House. But, it’s not about the shelter and services so much as it is about the aspirational benefit, the renewal of confidence and self-esteem that ignites the desire to survive and find the power to thrive.”
Her moving speech brought tears to many in the room.
“It made a huge impact on everyone in attendance,” said Shanks. “When you have a keynote presenter who can show the true emotion in her story, it makes it easier for others to understand exactly what survivors and families are going through in their own homes.”
The evening’s festivities continued with Kansas City’s famous auctioneers, the Nigro Brothers. They encouraged all to participate in the Fund-A-Need segment, where attendees raised their bid numbers to fund services offered by Hope House.
Then, it was on to the live auction that included a puppy, a trip to a winery in Oregon, a stay in sunny Florida, a mink coat, dinner with Chiefs’ Quarterback Alex Smith, a diamond necklace and more.
“The Nigro Brothers always make the live auction fun,” Shanks continued. “This year, there was a lot of excitement with the diamond necklace and the puppy. I think what made the auction great this year was the variety of items. We certainly had something for everyone in attendance.”
Once the auction ended, it was time for the real fun to begin. KOKOMO played live music while patrons danced the night away on the dance floor that was embossed with the Hope House golden sun logo. Although some turned in early, others decided to stick around and close the ballroom down – proving even more that Jazz 2015 was one for the record books.
Overall, the event raised more than $370,000 that will benefit Hope House’s general operating budget. The domestic violence agency that offers Missouri’s most comprehensive services will provide safe shelter, outreach therapy, food, court advocacy and much more to survivors and families of domestic violence.
“Without our caring community growing Jazz each year, there is no way we would be able to serve the thousands of survivors and families that we do,” Metheny said. “I remember the day of personally putting together centerpieces in a small banquet hall for 300 people. Now, having over 600 people in attendance, yet seeing so many longtime friends, I know we’ll be serving this community for much longer.”