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You can shop and dine, for a good cause

Fundraisers this weekend will benefit the Haven and help victims of domestic violence.

By JILL ANN PERRINO
Published October 4, 2005


When Bernadette Feliciano left her Palm Harbor home with her three boys last year, she had a desire to work as an artist, but not the skills or education to be her family's primary breadwinner.

After a 10-month course in health insurance billing and coding, she now has a steady job in a doctor's office and is continuing to build her skills. She plans to buy a home next year.

Feliciano, 32, thanks the Haven Domestic Violence Center in Clearwater for her success.

"The Haven gave me the freedom to get an education and to get my life together," she said.

Feliciano said she is grateful for everything the Haven has done for her and her children, such as providing counseling, shelter, transitional housing, clothing and "the best Christmas ever."

"I started out with nothing," she said. "They were wonderful."

This week, in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, local groups have planned three events to support the Haven and charities that aid people like Feliciano.

These events are a luncheon Friday at the Harborview Center, a clothing trade-in at three Stein Marts in North Pinellas on Friday and Saturday and a private shopping event on Sunday evening at the Palm Harbor Stein Mart.

The Haven hopes to raise $12,000 from the lunch and Sunday's "A Passion for Fashion" shopping event. The money will help provide services for the 17,000 clients the Haven helps each year.

Funds raised will be "just a drop in the bucket" of what the Haven actually needs, said marketing director Stephany Dawson.

Speaker Mark Wynn will help educate listeners at Friday's Faces of Domestic Violence awareness lunch. A former law enforcement officer who grew up in an abusive household, Wynn is an international speaker, trainer and consultant on domestic violence issues.

"It's more of an educational event," Dawson said of the lunch.

There are close to 10,000 reported cases of domestic violence in Pinellas County each year, Dawson said. "And that's just the reported cases."

The annual "Trade In, Trade Up" event will be held at Stein Mart stores in northern Pinellas County. In exchange for clean clothes in good condition, Stein Mart will provide donors with coupons for store merchandise.

Clothes for school-age children, kindergarten through 12th grade, will be especially appreciated at the Northwood store on McMullen-Booth Road.

"What's beautiful about this event is that customers can clean out their closets, knowing that they are helping some worthy charities," said Dawn LaCross, agenda consultant for North Pinellas Stein Marts. "And they get a tax receipt and coupon for something new."

To Help

The Haven Domestic Violence Awareness lunch: Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Harborview Center. Lunch begins at noon and will last one hour. Tickets are $25. Call Stephany Dawson at (727) 584-3528 for reservations.

Friday and Saturday -- Trade In, Trade Up: Donors can bring clean, gently used or new clothing on hangers to the Clearwater, Palm Harbor and Northwood Stein Marts from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Donors will receive a tax receipt and a 20 percent off coupon for any one item. Limit four coupons per customer. The fundraiser benefits the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin, Clothes to Kids and the Haven Domestic Violence Center.

Sunday - A Passion for Fashion: This private shopping event will be 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday at the Palm Harbor Stein Mart, U.S. 33591 U.S. 19 N. Tickets cost $5 and are available at the door or from Dignity U Wear, the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin, the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, the Friends of the Palm Harbor Library, Women on the Way Challenge Center at St. Petersburg College, the American Cancer Society, the Haven Domestic Violence Center, Clothes to Kids, the Upper Pinellas Association for Retarded Citizens Foundation, the Palm Harbor Junior Women's Club, Help A Child and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.