Auction held for domestic violence shelter

MARIETTA – It didn’t take long for the bidding to turn fast and furious – and fun – Friday night at the 31st annual EVE Inc. benefit auction.

The fourth item up for bid in the live auction, a quilt made by Marietta resident Wendy Myers, caught the eye of both Belpre resident Eddy Biehl and Marietta resident Ethan Frank-Collins. The bidding went back and forth to around $300, before Biehl kicked it up to $400.

Both men continued in increments of $50 as the crowd of more than 200 people cheered. Finally, Biehl won by making it an even $1,000.

“It was a nice quilt, and somebody needed to get the auction rolling,” said Biehl, 57.

And it didn’t hurt that it was for a good cause – EVE Inc. is a domestic violence shelter and more, providing counseling, transitional housing and other services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“They do such a great job for the community 364 days a year with such little notice,” Biehl said. “For one night, we can give back.”

Frank-Collins, 38, said he didn’t feel bad about bidding Biehl up or not coming away with the prize.

“We’re here for a good cause, so it’s always nice to see people get into the competitive spirit,” he said. “That’s what makes an auction fun.”

Myers said she’d only made quilts for family members before and was pleased with how much her donation brought in for the organization.

“We thought it was amazing,” she said, sitting with her husband, Todd.

The auction is EVE’s biggest fundraiser of the year, usually bringing in about $25,000, said Annelle Edwards, EVE’s co-director.

“That we use to match other funds … federal and state grants,” she said.

Friday’s auction was a bittersweet occasion for Edwards, since it was her final official act with EVE after a dozen years with the organization. She’s leaving to become a professor in Ohio University’s social work department.

“It’s a mixed bag of feeling sad but feeling confident that it’s going to continue” with great support from the community, Edwards said.

Edwards’ longtime co-director, Janet Wells, will take on the director’s title.

“It’s been a really interesting blend of our skills to be co-directors,” Edwards said. Now, “she’s going to carry the torch for EVE.”

After the annual presentation of awards, EVE board member Molly Varner presented Edwards with a wrapped gift on behalf of the board.

“You’ve done a great job,” Varner said. “We’ll miss you.”

Honored as EVE’s volunteer of the year was 16-year-old Warren High School student Wesley McDowell, who organized and, with the help of his troop, completed an estimated $3,000 in landscaping work at the local shelter. Shelter coordinator Shane Wisenburg described McDowell as a “somewhat quiet, thoughtful and never boastful young man.”

McDowell said someone suggested EVE to him while he was considering what to do for his Eagle Scout project. Although his parents told him the landscaping work might be too big to take on, McDowell remained determined.

“These people, they do need this,” he said.

McDowell said he was surprised to receive the honor.

“At first, I just thought my parents dragged me along to drag me along,” he said.

Many of those in attendance Friday were regular participants in the event.

“We really like the cause and anything that helps contribute to it,” said Marietta resident Tomeka Robinson, 28, attending with her husband Nicholas Parks, 33. “As well as you get some great stuff.”

Lois Lukens, 60, had been away from Marietta for 40 years before returning two years ago. She attended the auction last year and now is hooked.

“I won’t miss it,” Lukens said. “Because I come with my friends and we have a good time.”