Turning Point’s ‘Stepping Out with the Stars’ fundraiser goes virtual

‘We’re not taking a break just because of the pandemic’

By: Kristyne E. Demske | C&G Newspapers | Published September 17, 2020


MACOMB COUNTY — It’s usually a night for supporters to put their best foot forward for a great night of dancing entertainment, silent auctions and more.

But Turning Point Macomb’s annual Stepping Out with the Stars fundraiser will look a little different in 2020.

“Turning Point is celebrating 40 years. This would have been our fifth annual event,” said Sharman Davenport, Turning Point’s president and CEO. “We are in need of the funding that normally comes from this — that is what allows us to continue to provide the services that are essential to those that we serve.”

Turning Point Macomb provides emergency, support and prevention services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including an emergency shelter, individual and group counseling, advocacy, a Personal Protection Order assistance program and a forensic nurse examiners program.

From 7 p.m. Sept. 22 through 11:59 p.m. Sept. 24, supporters can visit www.turningpointmacomb.org for the Stepping Out with the Stars virtual fundraiser. The event will still include several dance performances, be hosted by emcee Nanette Griffin of WBRW in Romeo, and will include an online auction and speeches from Davenport, a member of the Survivors Speakers Bureau, and Arthur Murray Dance Studio of Sterling Heights event committee chair, Holly Fujishige.

“October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and we still feel that it is very important for people to understand domestic violence — the impact it has on the families, on the community,” Davenport said. “We didn’t want to miss an opportunity to give out that information and to pull together people who normally support this cause.

“We’re not taking a break just because of the pandemic.”

This year’s event is being hosted by Turning Point and event partner and sponsor Arthur Murray Dance Studio, with production assistance from WBRW of Romeo. It will include comments from the dancers, as well, and the online auction will include items featured during the program.

Supporters will be asked to make a donation to gain access to the show and online auction. Other sponsors include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58, the National Electrical Contractors Association, DTE Foundation, Flagstar Bank, Beaumont Hospital, St. John Ascension, the PNC Foundation, Huntington Private Bank and McNaughton McKay.

“We’re hoping to make this sort of still a festive event,” Davenport said. “People can join on maybe with their favorite beverage and watch the show and hopefully enjoy the dancers.”

Domestic violence has increased following stay-at-home orders brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Davenport explained.

“Mostly what we have seen over the course of this pandemic has been an increase in the number of calls on our hotline,” she said. “At the beginning, of course, there was the stay-at-home order, so people were not able to leave situations that they would ordinarily have left in the past.”

Those in abusive predicaments were faced with having to decide which was safer — staying in an abusive situation or being in a shelter with other people during a pandemic.

“We’ve continued to provide all of our services — shelter, crisis line, our counseling, which we’re doing now by phone or Zoom. A lot of those individuals, even if they weren’t coming to shelter, they were really in need of that support ... and connection to people who they felt were supportive of their needs,” Davenport said.

Each year, Turning Point receives about 10,000 crisis calls to its hotline, according to Davenport. It serves about 250 survivors and 250 children throughout the course of a year in its shelter, who typically stay for 30-90 days. Turning Point also provides prevention education for 8,000 students per year and serves 350-400 victims of sexual assault through its forensic nurse examiners program annually.

Turning Point Macomb hosts three of its own fundraisers per year: this event, a golf outing and Tara’s Walk — which will be held virtually Oct. 4-10. Stepping Out with the Stars typically brings in the bulk of donations for the year, about $100,000.

“It’s very significant to the bottom line for us and our being able to continue providing the services as we normally would,” Davenport said. “This year, costs are different. We have had to put some families in a hotel. There’s just differences now in how we conduct business.”

A couple weeks before the event, Davenport said she was able to see a preview of what is to come and said, “it’s very exciting.”

“I’m just happy that we’re able to pull this together and bring this to the people who support us,” she said. “I think they’re going to enjoy it. It looks really fun.”

For more information or to participate, visit www.turningpointmacomb.org.