Annual event planned to raise funds for Michael H. Seibel Center

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Paramount Theatre will be filled with local music and tasty treats for a good cause Friday.

The third annual Sweets and Sounds celebration will be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. to raise money for the Michael H. Seibel Family Visitation & Exchange Center, a secure location for children to have visitation with their parents or for exchanges between visitations.

The event is the biggest fundraiser of the center’s annual campaign, which lasts through the end of August.

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“It is extremely important,” said Director Heather Steinkamp.

Along with performances from local musical acts and dance acts, there will also be a silent auction and treats like cheesecake and bars on sale. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $18 at the door and are available at the Paramount box office. All proceeds go toward running the Seibel Center and reducing rates for families.

“It should be exciting,” Steinkamp said, noting they’ve brought back some of the most popular performers from last year and some new talent.

About a year ago, Steinkamp said the center applied for a big grant but didn’t receive it. While it was a big blow, she said they had to move forward.

“It’s part of the world of a non-profit,” she said.

With limited funding and grant dollars available, fundraising is important.

“Fundraising efforts are an absolute need and a huge support to us right now,” said Dan Thiner, a family monitor worker at the center.

Much of the money goes toward reducing rates. A typical family visit costs about $41 per hour, according to Steinkamp. Thanks to fundraising dollars, she said they’re often able to charge family as little as $2 to $5 for a two-hour visit.

Thiner said the center has provided a safe place for children to have visits with their parents.

“The Seibel Center has cut down on the cases of domestic abuse in Mower County,” Thiner said.

In 2011, the Seibel Center helped more than 100 children, housed 552 visits over about 1,267 hours, and there were 624 exchanges where children were transferred from one parent to another, according to Steinkamp.

There were also more than 100 Human Services visits at the center.

Sheriff Terese Amazi has previously said exchanges without the center have turned ugly before and ended in assaults. County Attorney Kristen Nelsen said the center keeps exchanges from turning to disputes that can escalate to violence.

“Every one of those exchanges has the potential for serious, if not lethal, violence,” Nelsen said at a county board meeting earlier this year. “That’s when bad stuff happens.”

If the Seibel Center weren’t operating, it would probably cost the county much more later, they said. Nelsen said it would only take one or two violent incidents to rack up big costs in the county attorney’s office, law enforcement and courts.

Sweets and sounds

When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Paramount Theatre

Tickets: $15 in advance; $18 at the door. All ticket money, donations and silent auction funds benefit the Seibel Center.