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'Gimme Shelter'

PRINCETON — The crew at Freedom House is revving up for its “Gimme Shelter” fundraiser, which will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, in Chapel Hill Event Center.

The evening will mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month and is inspired by the Rolling Stones’ classic song, Gimme Shelter.

Trisha Schafer, public relations manager for Freedom House, said when they began looking into ideas for event themes, they turned to music for inspiration and stumbled upon the Rolling Stones song. Diving deeper into its lyrics and the story behind how the song was recorded, many felt it told the story of Freedom House.

“It just fit the whole story of what we do here,” Schafer said.

Merry Clayton sings backup in the song, but many may not know she was never meant to do so. When the Rolling Stones were recording the album, their original backup singer never showed up. A member of the band said he knew Clayton and thought she might be a good fit for the kind of voice they needed. So they called Clayton up at 2 a.m. and asked her to come down to the recording studio. She was eight months pregnant, still in her pajamas and rollers in her hair. It took her only two tries to get the song right. While she blew the Rolling Stones away with her talent, she ended up losing her baby at 38 weeks.

So to honor her story and theme for Freedom House, the crew will be auctioning off underwrite nights at the shelter.

There will be a Merry Clayton package for 15 nights for $1,500. Mick Jagger’s package will be 10 nights for $1,000. Keith Richards’ package will be five nights for $500 and then single night stays will be auctioned off in addition to the packages. A one night stay at Freedom House is estimated to be $100, according to Schafer.

“We thought, do people want to go home with a bunch of new stuff from a silent auction or do they really want to come and go home with that feeling that they just helped pay for a victim and their kids to stay at the shelter and take advantage of the services we offer,” Schafer said.

It’s been about eight years since Freedom House hosted an annual fundraiser event. Schafer said one of the main reasons they’re kicking it back now is because the agency is rebounding from the state’s budget crisis. During the budget impasse, Freedom House continued to operate without payments from the state.

Schafer said the only thing that prevented the agency from closing was the fact it had generous supporters and a healthy reserve fund they were able to draw from to continue paying staff. The state has come around and is now sending owed payments to Freedom House, but Schafer said the agency has depleted over half of its reserve funds.

“In our minds we need to fundraise not only for the cash funds, but also for the support and to let people know what we do in the community and make them aware that we are more than just a shelter,” she said.

The evening will also honor Freedom House founder Nedda Simon, who will receive the formal title of Honorary Board Member Emeritus. Simon will be the first and only person to hold this special honor.

Schafer said many agency founders are no longer around, so it’s extra special that Freedom House still has the support from Simon.

“She’s still a huge presence here … she’s involved and still very viable,” Schafer said.

The “Gimme Shelter” gala will also feature a champagne reception, a tasting menu, speeches illuminating Simon’s lifelong commitment to her community and a karaoke contest among rehearsed contestants who have volunteered to sing. Aside from the live auction, there will also be a silent auction of items donated by community members and local businesses, as well as a raffle and wine-pull.

For more information and event tickets, contact Schafer at 815-872-0087 or

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