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Afternoon tea party benefits Liberty House

Attendees at Ladies Tea for Charity enjoy an afternoon of high tea and fellowship at The Ocala House. (Special photo)

Attendees at Ladies Tea for Charity enjoy an afternoon of high tea and fellowship at The Ocala House. (Special photo)

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Joyce Fitzgerald models a Victorian Tea Dress. (Special photo)

LEESBURG — The Ocala House recently collaborated with Living Hope Fellowship Church to host Ladies Tea for Charity. Through this event, these organizations partnered to raise money and awareness for Liberty House of Albany, a nonprofit emergency shelter and outreach service agency that provides comprehensive services for domestic violence victims, their children, and families.

The fundraiser was the brain child of Ocala House colleagues, Jill Tanner and Sandra Cook. Cook also serves as co-pastor at Living Hope Fellowship and leads the women’s ministry. The idea for the charity event formed out of a mutual desire to create a collaboration with which to engage and educate the community, create awareness about local issues, and help to provide much needed funding for a worthwhile cause.

“The ladies at our church were looking for outreach opportunities to bless the community and many were familiar with Liberty House of Albany,” said Cook. “Members of our Ladies’ of Vision ministry were excited to help raise money to support the important work that they do at the Liberty House.”

According to the website for Liberty House, the organization seeks to heighten awareness and encourage people to speak out about domestic abuse.

In creating a memorable and enjoyable event in which to raise funds for this nonprofit, the Ocala House became the perfect venue for a Victorian Tea.

“What southern woman doesn’t like to put on a fancy hat, dress up and have some fun while helping a worthy cause?” Cook stated.

Although the Ocala House is a local southern plantation-style estate and multi-purpose venue that is a favored location for weddings, the plantation provided an ideal setting for such an event. “Yes, we host a number of weddings, rehearsal dinners and corporate events, but this Victorian tea was one of our most unique to date.” said Tanner, Ocala House director. “We were pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Living Hope Fellowship Church for this fundraiser.”

So b 4 p.m. on a recent Sunday afternoon, ladies adorned in Victorian dress gathered for high tea. The price of admission included a complimentary professional photograph, access to an array of silent auction items, light dinner and an assortment of teas, cakes and desserts. Hidden Facets Photography was on hand to capture the memories while catering services were provided by Cindi Horn of C & C Caterers as well as Mindi Warren from local restaurant, Our Daily Bread.

As attendees settled in to enjoy local southern delicacies, Executive Director of Liberty House, Silke Deeley, offered some statistics on the harsh realities of domestic violence and its impact on the local community. One of only forty-six in the state of Georgia, this nonprofit agency serves more than 1,000 people each year in Albany, Leesburg and 15 surrounding counties.

Liberty House provides a full array of support services to help survivors and their children as they work to re-build their lives in a safe environment. While the agency depends on federal grants as a main financial resource, the organization also requires year round funding and volunteer support from private donors, church groups and assistance from members of local communities.

“All the programs and services we offer are completely free,” Deeley said. “Many times people who are fleeing abusive situations come to us with just a few items and we care for survivors and their children. Not only do we provide safe and secure living facilities, support groups and private counseling, but we help with rent payments, medications, childcare and anything these families need.

“Imagine losing everything you have because you have to get away from any abuser. They need all the things necessary for living.”

After Executive Director Deeley spoke, The Georgia Cake Lady, Maryanne Pelham, also shared an inspiring message and provided some levity during dinner.

As a result of caring citizens who came together to make a difference, the inaugural Ladies Charity Tea raised close to $1,400 for Liberty House of Albany. Living Hope Fellowship and its Women of Vision ministry plan to continue efforts to meet the needs in the community and establish ongoing outreach opportunities in the future.

To make a donation or provide items personal care items for the emergency shelter, please visit Liberty House of Albany on Facebook or the agency website at www.libertyhouseofalbany.net to review the published “wish list.”