Tropical getaway supports need for shelter

SYCAMORE – Volunteers and staff at Hope Haven are hoping people will escape the icy weather for some tropical fun Saturday – at least for a few hours.

Gimme Shelter: A Night in the Tropics is a tropical-themed fundraiser scheduled from 6 p.m. until midnight at Cabana Charley’s, 1470 S. Peace Road in Sycamore. The event is the first major fundraiser in the homeless shelter’s 26-year history.

“In the past, we’ve just been working in the trenches. There’s always so much to do, and events are hard to plan; they take a lot of work,” executive director Lesly Wicks said.

The shelter’s biggest fundraiser to date is its annual Night by Night campaign, which is a fundraising drive, but doesn’t have a central event. Gimme Shelter was planned by a new subcommittee, Friends of Hope Haven, made up of board members, staff and community volunteers, Wicks said.

“We wanted to provide an event for everyone to come out, escape the nasty winter weather and support Hope Haven, and to show how much we appreciate our supporters,” said Caroline Lowery, a member of both the Hope Haven board and the Friends of Hope Haven. “Our donors support a critical need, and they’re so, so appreciated.”

Tickets to the event are $40, which include heavy hors d’oeuvres and live music by the Party Doctors. They are available at Hope Haven, 1145 Rushmoore Drive in DeKalb, or at the door. Cabana Charley’s will be closed to the public that evening for the event, Lowery said. There will be a cash bar, and Cabana Charley’s will offer a special rum bucket and donate a portion of proceeds from those sales to the shelter.

There will also be a 50/50 raffle and a silent auction with a “getaways” theme. The signature auction item is a weeklong stay at a villa on the southeastern coast of Italy, Lowery said.

Although Hope Haven expanded in late 2011, the recent cold spell has put it over capacity, Wicks said. She said there is a population of homeless people in DeKalb who choose not to seek shelter most of the time, but the subzero temperatures force them indoors. She also noted that the state’s most recent poverty report indicates the population living in poverty in DeKalb County rose by 56 percent between 2007 and 2011.

“We get people from point A to point B, but you feel like you’re always treading water,” she said.

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