Peaceful Paths hosting first event since pandemic began

Peaceful Paths is bringing back one of its premier fundraising events for the first time since the start of the pandemic—and spiffing it up with a new day, a new season and new hybrid auction component.

The Power of the Purse, which raises money for the domestic violence center’s economic empowerment program, traditionally has been a fall event to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The previous versions of the event had also been set up as mid-week luncheon with an onsite auction.

But the 2020 event got canceled by COVID-19, and the not-for-profit decided to revamp the format, moving to a weekend brunch in April and shifting its auction from in-person to online.

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Stephanie Freas, the development director for Peaceful Paths, said the organization hopes the weekend brunch and “fun, high-end purse auction” will allow more people to participate.

The brunch itself is from 10 a.m. to noon on April 17 at the Gainesville Women’s Club. But the online auction of approximately 150 donated purses—new, gently-used and vintage—is already open and will continue through April 17.

The donated purses up for bid include products from designers like Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Dooney & Bourke and Coach. The auction also features new and used “Take Me Home” purses that are not part of the bidding process and are priced from $15 to $75.

And you do not have to attend the Saturday brunch to buy or bid on the purses—winning bidders can arrange to collect their auction items in-person next week from Peaceful Paths.

Purple Coach purse

In the fall, Peaceful Paths hosted a virtual guest chef event that featured an online auction. Moving it online roughly doubled the number of participants and helped the organization raise about $25,000 more than at previous events. Freas said they hope the Power of the Purse sees similar successes.

“The virtual component certainly allowed more people to participate than ever before,” Freas said.

The organization also has already secured several sponsors, which have already boosted the event’s fundraising.

“Going into the event we have already raised almost as we had for the entire event the last time we had it in October 2019,” Freas said.

The Power of the Purse is earmarked for the economic empowerment programs at Peaceful Paths, including helping domestic abuse survivors with rapid rehousing costs, job readiness skills, and credit repair. The program also pays for survivors to participate in a 10-class personal finance workshop.

“We are trying to help survivors to get on the path to financial independence and self-sufficiency,” Freas said. “It’s one of our most transformative programs.”

Anyone interested in attending the brunch in-person can call Peaceful Paths for ticket availability at 352-377-5690. Tickets are $55 a person. The tables will be socially distanced, and attendees will be required to wear a mask unless they are sitting at their designated table.

People looking to participate in the online auction or to make donations to Peaceful Paths can access the auction website via Peaceful Path’s Power of the Purse event page.

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