ALAMEDA -- An evening of live music, buffet dining and prizes — plus an up-close view of yachts and sailboats on the estuary marine is set for March 21 at Pasta Pelican to raise funds for Alameda's Midway Shelter.

The shelter for abused women and children has been in operation since 1989 and has provided food, counseling and employment, education and housing assistance for hundreds of women and children in crisis situations. It is the number-one facility in Alameda County in finding housing for its clients, said longtime volunteer Ginny Krutilek.

The facility has 25 beds but sometimes houses up to 30 people when children share beds with their mothers. The demand for services remains steady, Krutilek said.

"It's hard to hear some of the voices calling for space," she said. "Many of them sound very young and really desperate. At times, I get two or three calls a day. It's been busy lately."

While the women are there, they are assigned chores to help maintain the building (the address is undisclosed to protect clients). They also take classes in parenting and what to do about domestic violence. The program has paid staff on the site at all times. Volunteers also help by raising funds and delivering food, and churches sometimes provide evening meals, helping lower the grocery costs.


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The Alameda Homeless Network, a nonprofit organization responsible for the shelter property, partners with Building Futures with Women and Children, which operates and manages the shelter. It also secures public funding, manages staffing, operations and support services. The homeless network raises private funds -- last year, it brought in $65,000 of the annual $350,000 costs to operate the shelter.

The Have a Heart Gala is one many shelter fundraising efforts, and this year's new waterfront venue will likely be the best yet, Krutilek said.

FYI
The Have a Heart Gala benefit for the Midway Shelter in Alameda begins at 6 p.m. March 21 at Pasta Pelican, 2455 Mariner Square. Jim Franz and Jan Nichols will play their lively tunes while guests dine and win door and raffle prizes -- the grand prize is $500. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door until March 15. After that, tickets will be $60 each. To reserve tickets, call 510-523-2377. A no-host bar will be available.