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By Kim Robertson
For the Leader

Mazing Matthias of St. Louis performs at Comtrea’s Mardi Gras fundraiser.

About 250 people turned out Saturday for the second annual Mardi Gras Ball, raising more than $32,000 for A Safe Place, a domestic violence shelter run by Comtrea, which provides mental health and medical services, said Kim Elbl, the Jefferson County agency’s fundraising coordinator.

Both the attendance and the money raised at the event were up from the previous year, Elbl said.

“The event was a huge success,” she said. “We made a lot of friends, and women gave a very compelling presentation about their experience and services they’ve gotten at the shelter.”

Elbl said the money from this year will be used to build a playground and bike path at the shelter, which houses women and children, and to install privacy fencing around it.

She said A Safe Place also helps men, but they aren’t housed at the shelter.

“We have other means of putting them up in a safe place as well,” Elbl said.

She said Comtrea has already received some bids for the playground and other additions at the shelter, and the work probably will start in the spring. “It (the improvements) will go in in phases,” Elbl said.

The Mardi Gras ball included a cocktail hour, live music, a Cajun dinner, auctions, carnival games and other entertainment.

“We had a fire breather and someone riding a unicycle and juggling and a guy who was stilt walking,” Elbl said.

She said A Safe Place offers free shelter and other services to domestic violence victims.

“The people who are residing at the shelter, everything is free. They receive counseling and group therapy and life skills training. We have domestic violence educational groups and provide court advocacy and recreational activities.”

Story Courtesy of Leader Publications

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