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Women's Center Holds Biggest Function


Two hundred supporters of the Women's Transitional Living Center raised $17,000 Saturday night at their third annual dinner and silent-voice auction--held this year at the Irvine Hilton.

"It's also the 10th anniversary of the center," said "Night on the Town" chairman Connie Castro, obviously pleased with the move to the Hilton. (Previous functions had been held at the Elks Club and Moose Lodge.) "It's our biggest and best yet. I never thought we could get this far."

Pat Baldwin, chairman of the board of directors, described the living center as "a shelter for battered wives and children who have nowhere to go when they flee their homes. It's located in north Orange County, but we don't give out the exact location for reasons of security."

The center receives support from the county and United Way, Baldwin said, but "money from the fund-raiser will go mainly back into center operation."

"The main thing we are trying to do," Baldwin continued, "is break the pattern of domestic violence. Unless you do that, it cycles over and over again."

Dan Baldwin, Pat's husband and a member of the center board, pointed out that the shelter has needs other than money: "Clothes and furniture. When a woman decides to leave home, she has only her purse and her kids. We do anything to get the family going together, but if she decides to go on her own, she has clothes and some furniture for her apartment."

The living center, which houses 45 women and children, is the largest shelter in California and the third largest in the nation. There is a mandatory stay of three days, according to Baldwin, and women and children can stay for up to 45 days, during which time the women receive classes in self-assertiveness, guidance counseling and legal and medical aid.

'Act of Desperation

"Many have left (home) once, twice, three times before. To decide to come to the shelter, or any shelter, is an act of desperation," said board member and psychologist Jan French, who is volunteer supervisor of counselors at the center.

French would like to see the living center more financially independent. "We appreciate government funding of these shelters and we need it, but the funds do fluctuate, and some government agencies are not as responsive to the needs of women's shelters as we would like them to be."

French would like to see the children's program expand. "Two-thirds of our population (in the shelter) are children. They have often been abused themselves or have witnessed their mothers being abused. They are frightened, angry and don't know how to talk about it. Working with them is an investment in the future."

"Prevention is the key to (solving the problem of) domestic violence," added shelter director Susan Leibel. "Our goal, really, is to go out of business."

Attending the dinner and auction were county Supervisor Harriett Wieder and County Clerk Gary Granville.

Rowlan Hill of Bakersfield displayed real aptitude for coaxing bids from the audience. "He's the best I've ever heard," said Wieder.

Robert Mister, also a member of the center board, served as master of ceremonies.

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