In the midst of the happiest time of the year, a locally run jewelry auction hopes to spread this giving spirit and cheer a little further. The RI Family Shelter will hold its Precious Elegance jewelry auction this Friday at 6 p.m. at the Buttonwoods Community Center. This fundraiser, which has been an annual occurrence for more than 10 years, has been an overwhelming success for the shelter. Proceeds go towards things like daily meals, case working, infant care and other basic operations of the facility.
Although many have reaped these benefits, one woman is especially thankful, and that powerful statement stems from her experience living at the shelter.
Patricia Baxter, 43, is a single mother who was forced into an unfortunate situation after working in the banking industry for 18 years. Baxter lost her job in 2008 due to medical problems and eventually became a shelter resident in August of 2010. She lived there “six days short of a year,” she says, one of the longer tenures at the shelter (which, according to Executive Director Patti Macreading, exceeds the typical six to eight-month residency). During this stay, she completed many of her personal goals, which included getting her health on track by losing upwards of 200 pounds. Once Baxter and her teenage son had the means to leave the shelter, they concluded this chapter of their lives and moved on the next.
Baxter is now attending CCRI, where she is working to get her human service certificate. She is also a part-time case manager at the shelter and is living in a House of Hope facility in Warwick.
The jewelry auction holds a special place in Baxter’s heart because in December of 2011, after living at the shelter for almost a year, she returned, but this time as a buyer.
Baxter says that attending the auction was a wonderful experience.
“The shelter saved my life,” she says, “and it was a great feeling to give back to an organization that gave so much to me.”
During her financial crisis, Baxter was forced to pawn much of her jewelry, so she was excited to rebuild her collection. She says she picked up items for herself, which included earrings and a necklace. This year she will be in attendance, but as support behind the registration table and any other place she is needed. Along with working part time at the shelter, she has enrolled at CCRI and is studying social work.
Macreading says the auction has always been a success, and hopes it continues to be so. Last year, approximately 50 people attended, which resulted in a profit of about $10,000. The average retail value of an item ranges from $80 to $200, but buyers can walk away with pieces at almost half this price. A lucky buyer walked away with a $600 David Yurman bracelet last year.
Founding Board Member Jim Roberts donates many of the pieces that will be found at the auction from his company, Armbrust International, where he holds the title of president.
RIFS has utilized email blasts, social media and local word of mouth to publicize the event. Entertainment will be provided by Chris Whitten of Coastline Entertainment. Other sponsors include Armbrust International and Re/Max. Contact Patti Macreading at 739-8584 to R.S.V.P. There is a $5 entry donation.
Macreading also urges that cash donations are always at the top of the wish list, not only during the holidays but anytime throughout the year.