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Community    |    Articles of interest to the community.

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published on 05/23/2007

First Annual “Friendraiser” for The Sanctuary

By staff writer

Wilber Willis, Linda McLean,and Mary Durham
The First Annual “Friendraiser” supporting The Sanctuary was held Thursday, April 19, 2007, at the Bessie Smith Hall, Chattanooga, TN. Making a play on the word fundraiser, the purpose of this event was not only to raise funds but also to gain new friends by telling the story of the Sanctuary.

Co-chairs for the event were Beth Caldwell, Angie Casey and Paige Smith. The staff of the Sanctuary including Robin Cruse, Program Director and Lauren Arnold, who manages Hummingbird Haven, the Sanctuary’s cottage industry, greeted everyone at the door. A delicious assortment of heavy hors d’oevres was offered to all the guest who filled the hall.

Lynn Schmissrauter, Chairman of the Board and the Rev. Margaret Marshall, Executive Director, thanked the many people who helped make this event so special. This included all the members of the current board as well as all those who have served in the past. But most importantly they thanked the residents of The Sanctuary who told their stories so that writer Jeff Briere was able to create the one-act play Sanctuary Stories. Directed by Kate Briere, this powerful play was a compilation of true stories telling the messages of the women of the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary is a healing community that provides safe housing for homeless women. Supportive people sustain it and the programs, which help the Residents rebuild their lives, strengthen their spirits, and acquire skills to thrive in the world with a foundation of hope and wholeness.

The Sanctuary Stories performed by Jess Briere, Gene Bartoo, Brandalyn Paul, Michelle Tatum, Kate Briere, E’Tienne Easley, Linda Pehlman, Bob Marshall, and Alice Smith brought tears to many eyes and a standing ovation at its conclusion. Telling the stories of Latonya, Cynthia, Janice, Dianne, Katrina, and Tonya, the actors were able to reach into the hearts of the audience and see what it’s like for these women struggling to regain control of their lives and the hope they get from being associated with the Sanctuary.

As the Rev. Margaret Marshall stated, “Only in the South do we find a First Annual event.” This first “Friendraiser” for the Sanctuary has set the standard for all future Friendraisers and our hope is that its success will continue from this event forward. If you would like to contribute to the Sanctuary or volunteer or just want more information, please call them at . Volunteers are needed as officer assistants, driving residents, gardening, exercise partner with a resident, teaching life skills, tutoring, cooking classes, house maintenance & repairs, photographing the greeting cards, and also helping with the production of the Hummingbird Haven Cards.

Remember, the residents and volunteers of The Sanctuary, a non-profit resdientail community for homelss women in Chattanooga, make all the Hummingbird Cards. The purpose of The Sanctuary is to empower women by providing services such as safe housing, health care, education, and job training. For more information go to

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