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Chocolate Fest, auction to highlight 20th anniversary of Next Step Domestic Violence Project

Posted Feb. 05, 2013, at 3:12 p.m.

DEDHAM — The Next Step Domestic Violence Project will celebrate its 20th anniversary with its annual Chocolate Fest and Silent Auction 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Lucerne Inn in Dedham. The event will benefit Next Step, a nonprofit organization that serves those affected by domestic violence in Hancock and Washington counties.

Items up for bid include an iPad 2, a scenic flight tour for two in Trenton, a family membership at Down East Family YMCA in Ellsworth and more.

“We have done the Chocolate Fest every year since Next Step came into being in 1993,” said Rebecca Hobbs, executive director of Next Step. “Our goal this year is raise $10,000,” Hobbs said. “We’re grateful to Camden National for being our event sponsor for the last several years.” The funds raised will help support the agency’s operating budget, she said.

“The organization does so much good in the community so it’s a no-brainer for us,” said Domenic Efter, Camden National Bank vice president, regional retail manager. “We want to be involved in helping [Next Step]. We will be there at the event as main sponsor, and 10 volunteers from the bank will be there to assist with the auction and make sure there is enough chocolate on the table — whatever is needed. We support the event financially and with boots on the ground. As a company we put a in a lot of volunteer time in the community so the organization gets the best we can possibly give.”

“Last year we served 31 percent more people than in 2011,” Hobbs said, even though we haven’t had increases in staff or funding in six years. We’re glad more people are reaching out to us for services. In 2012, we served 1,093 clients, had 2,800 hotline calls, more than 2,000 “bed-nights” [when clients needed be stay in the agency’s emergency shelter], and served more than 4,400 people through training and seminars.”

Organizers of the event are seeking donated items for the auction and table sponsors.

Next Step offers a 24-hour hotline, court advocacy, support groups, an emergency shelter, outreach services, transitional housing and community education programs to schools, organizations, businesses and civic groups, from 15-minute presentations to daylong seminars.

To reach Next Step’s hotline, call 800-315-5579, available 24 hours a day.

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