The Retreat will host its annual All Against Abuse gala this Saturday, June 9, from 6:30 to 11 PM at The Muses in Southampton.
Since the gala’s beginning in 1996, artists and celebrities have crafted one-of-a-kind, hand-painted ceramic platters as the signature pieces of this long beloved event. Over the course of two decades, this gala has raised more than $2.5 million through generous donations that aid in the safety and support of those suffering from domestic violence.
All Against Abuse board member Ellie Kurrus started as a volunteer for The Retreat in 2014 by answering its 24-hour hotline. She vividly remembers her first call. “The victim had just escaped from being barricaded in her room without a cell phone. She was able to squeeze through barred windows, climb down the fire escape, and get to the safety of the police, who referred her to The Retreat. I remember thinking, ‘No one should have to live like this!’”
That single call solidified her support for the organization and its goals to raise funds to help as many victims as possible. “Abuse comes in all forms. Recognizing it and getting help is essential for you and your family’s safety and future. The Retreat is there to help you break the cycle and heal,” she noted.
The Retreat was started in 1987 as a local non-profit supporting the survivors of abuse and assault across the East End. Its programs have grown to include a residential shelter for adults and children, counseling, a 24-hour hotline, in-school violence prevention education program in all local schools, and legal advocacy for all victims, free of charge.
Ann Chwatsky was previously involved in the gala’s art auction component and is a former member of the board. She still serves on the All Against Abuse committee. She described a particular painting, “The artist, April Gornik, has been a supporter of our art auction part of the gala for many years, and that is so appreciated. This year, she has given us a beautiful print — tones of blues that evoke land masses and oceans,” Chwatsky said.
This year’s gala honorees are Joy Behar, co-host of ABC News’s “The View,” and Emmy Award-winning producer, Robin Hommel-Tenenbaum. It will also feature author and national advocate, Leslie Morgan Steiner.
“Robin and I are grateful we can use our platforms to shine a light on domestic violence and support The Retreat’s life-changing work. What this organization does to help the brave individuals and families heal is deeply touching. We remain inspired to share the mission and needs of The Retreat and celebrate their clients’ resilience,” explained Behar.
Steiner is a survivor of domestic violence. At the young age of 22, the Harvard graduate found herself in a four-year marriage to a Wall Street banker who held loaded guns to her head and yanked car keys out of the ignition as she drove on the highway. Scared for her life, she realized, above anything else, she needed a safe haven and legal representation.
“[I needed] assurance that it wasn’t my fault that I had fallen in love with a deeply troubled, abusive man. My friends and family couldn’t give me that, despite their love,” Steiner said.
“So, in my time of greatest need, I turned to strangers in the domestic violence community for support and guidance. The Retreat gives the East End’s abuse survivors everything they need to transform their lives at no charge and without any judgment. I’m proud to tell my story at the All Against Abuse event to raise much needed awareness and money to benefit the Retreat’s important and life-changing programs,” Steiner added.
This year’s Artist Honor Roll includes April Gornik, Barbara Maslen, Barry Kreiswirth and Lisa Allen, Dan Rizzie, Jack Youngerman, Jill Musnicki, Justin Greenwald, Miles Jaffe, Peter Dayton, Toni Toss, Dan Welden, and Lynn Savarese.
Cocktail music will be provided by The John Ludlow Duo featuring Steve Nelson, catering by Art of Eating, and after dinner dancing by East End Entertainment. This year’s auctioneer is CK Swett.
The Muses is located at 111 Saint Andrews Road, Southampton. The Retreat is located at 13 Goodfriend Drive, East Hampton. Call 631-329-4398 or visit online at www.theretreatinc.org.