Debra Tremblay had two words to say Monday about the seventh annual dinner auction “Eat Bid Save A Life” on Sept. 14 for Hays-based Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services.

“Please donate,” said Tremblay, board president of Options, which started in Hays in 1983 as a grassroots movement of women helping other women escape domestic violence.

In the past 18 months there have been four domestic violence murders in the 18-counties in northwest Kansas served by Options, says Jennifer Hecker, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

Options helps victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sex trafficking, with a host of services and assistance from a helpline answered 24 hours a day, and support groups and shelter available around the clock, to advocacy in court, with medical facilities and law enforcement; emergency financial assistance and financial literacy classes, among other services. Besides the Hays office at 2716 Plaza Ave., there’s a staff of 23 and many volunteers, one shelter house at an undisclosed location in Ellis County, and a satellite office in Colby.

“In 2018 we provided 9,555 services to 411 survivors and victims,” said Hecker, noting services are provided to victims’ children and those who help them. All services are free, confidential and voluntary.

“That number is getting bigger all the time,” Hecker said. “We’ve seen a 653 percent increase in requests for sexual assault services since 2015. People are becoming more aware there is a place they can go to get help.”

Hecker hopes to raise $25,000 with the dinner and auction Sept. 14 at the Rose Garden Banquet Hall, 2350 E. 8th St. The cocktail hour with open bar, three-course dinner, raffles and live and silent auction starts at 6 p.m.

Single tickets are $30, and $50 for a couple, and $250 for a table of 10. Options has capacity for 150 guests, with tickets still available.

About 100 guests attended last year. Auction items this year include an electric guitar starter kit from Thunder Chord Guitars in Colby, diamond earrings from Riddle’s Jewelry, 2918 Vine St., and a Taste of Hays basket with gift certificates to Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co., Cancun Mexican Grill, Taco Shop, The Golden Q and others.

“We want to promote local businesses that support our cause,” Hecker said. “We’ll also have a Brews on the Bricks general admission ticket. You can’t buy those tickets anymore.”

About 90 percent of Options’ $1.077 million 2019 budget is covered by funding from state, federal and local grants. On Monday, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced $77,000 in victims services grants for Options.

The awards are from the Protection from Abuse Fund and the State Crime Victims’ Assistance Fund, money that comes from marriage license fees, county courts costs, municipal court assessments, applicable fines, penalties and forfeitures from clerks of the district court, and some general fund appropriations.

Some of the grant money will retrofit an RV to launch a mobile advocacy initiative in January.

“We know we can’t have brick and mortar in all 18 counties,” said Hecker. “But we can drive to those counties on a set schedule. In our rural counties, transportation is really key.”

The service will help victims who don’t have access to transportation, or who are being tracked and monitored by their abuser and can’t get to Hays or Colby for help.

“If we can come to them, it reduces those barriers greatly,” she said.

The auction is the largest fundraiser of the year for Options, which is also in need of volunteers, including to serve on its 12-member board of directors.

“It’s very rewarding,” said Tremblay, “because you do know you’re a part of making this happen.”

Anyone wishing to buy tickets, volunteer or donate to the auction can contact Options at 785-625-4202.