High tea fundraiser brings support for victims of domestic violence

ENCINITAS — What started as a simple spaghetti lunch has evolved into a high-class affair to support the efforts of the Community Resource Center.The Encinitas Senior and Community Center was transformed March 24 into a traditional floral tearoom for the organization’s 17th annual English Tea fundraiser. Savories and finger sandwiches were paired with customary tea service for more than 250 guests during the sold-out event.

Author and survivor, Elin Stebbins Waldal spoke about teen dating violence to a sell out crowd of 250 during the Community Resource Center’s 17th Annual English Tea on March 24. Photo by Wehtahnah Tucker

A silent auction gave people a chance to bid on everything from original art to luxury vacations.

Attendees were there for more than just high tea and auction items. It was a time to financially support the multiple missions at the center. Event proceeds will provide essential support to the center, which has been a primary provider of social services programs in the North County Coastal area since 1979.

The nonprofit organization assists more than 2,500 households annually through services such as comprehensive domestic violence programs, transitional and temporary housing, a therapeutic children’s center and homeless prevention.

The center also operates several food programs that provide sustenance for hundreds of local residents on a regular basis.

In addition, funds will be used to support Carol’s House, a comprehensive long-term transitional housing shelter for families. Prior to the establishment of the “house,” the center managed a domestic violence shelter that could only accommodate 12 people at a time, but efforts to increase the center’s capacity to house families fleeing domestic violence have been successful.

Elin Stebbins Waldal addressed a captivated audience of community members.

Waldal is the author of the award-winning book “Tornado Warning, A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life.” Waldal is also a state-certified domestic violence advocate who focuses on the prevention of teen relationship violence.

Waldal spoke of her personal experience as a victim of domestic violence at a young age. Waldal said she was good at hiding the abuse, especially from her parents. “My parents were Herculean in nature when I finally told them,” she said. “My mother didn’t miss a beat, once I told her I wanted to go to college after all she started arranging campus visits and gathering catalogs.”

“We need to be celebrating that we have resources today,” Waldal said, recalling that violence and teen dating weren’t on the radar of most of society when she experienced her abuse.

“All kids deserve their childhoods,” she said. Waldal gave strong, yet simple advice to the audience. “Engage young people,” she said. “Do your best not to do it in a judgmental way.”

The organization’s executive director, Laurin Pause, said that providing resources to young men is vital to ending domestic violence. “Boys need good role models who are men that can show anger isn’t the way to manage conflict resolution.” Unlike many other shelters, Carol’s House allows boys up to age 18 to live in the home with their family.

Kristen, 22, revealed that she had also been a domestic violence victim until recently. “The story you shared, I just went through that,” she told Waldal. After her three-year abusive relationship, Kristen said she has resolved to shed light on the problem of violence in teen dating. Her “Breaking the Silence Against Domestic Violence” is a media campaign that uses education, leadership and a call to action to end domestic violence. Several documentaries are available on the Facebook page Breakthesilence1.

“When you are brave with your life it empowers others to be brave with theirs,” Waldal said in response to Kristen’s story.

Her parting advice was a call she often gives. “Never give up on someone,” she said. “You never know when it’s the first time they will hear you.”

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