The Time Out Shelter raised nearly $5,000 during its annual “Steppin’ Out” fashion show fund-raiser Saturday.
More than 100 women attended the afternoon luncheon at Chaparral Pines, lending their support to the area’s only domestic violence shelter and education center by stepping out in their finest to nibble chocolate and do a little shopping.
Time Out amped up the luxury at this year’s event by hosting it at the Chaparral Pines clubhouse, which features towering ceilings and large, wooden beams — complete with offered valet service, a red carpet entrance and live piano music.
Inside, the all-women crowd enjoyed every variety of chocolatey, fudgey delight at a confection table, a fashion show and several shopping options.
Attendees could place bids on dozens of gift baskets, most donated by local merchants, which ranged from a private Thai dinner to a wine basket.
In addition, an armoire of clothing for sale came from Time Out’s own thrift store and later Time Out supporters presented some of the wares during a fashion show.
All of the extra flourishes paid off.
Event organizer Donna Lahti said the shelter made a “ton” of money.
“People were so generous and so kind,” she said.
The chocolate table alone garnered $600. More surprising than how much money it yielded, Lahti said male supporters of the shelter made nearly all of the chocolate goods.
“I call them my candy men now,” Lahti said.
Chaparral Pines donated the use of the building and several Time Out volunteers donated their time to plan the event.
Lahti said she chose Steppin’ Out as this year’s theme to signify stepping out of an abusive situation and into freedom, into the sunlight.
Guest speaker Hanna Lulgjuraj-Murray, who wrote “Live to Tell It,” a book about the abusive situation she barely escaped 22 years ago, said there is life after abuse.
“I can empathize with women that are being abused,” she said, “because I have been there.”
Lulgjuraj-Murray’s ex-husband nearly killed her when he shot her in the chest and left her to die, she said.
“I am on a mission to save women’s lives around the world,” she said. “This is my story and how I overcame.”
Lulgjuraj-Murray said she grew up in a family with strict views on a woman’s role in the household. She was taught at an early age that what a man says goes. That mindset nearly got her killed and is something she stopped with her own two daughters, who she proudly described are strong, confident women.
Besides raising money, Lahti said she hopes the event highlighted the number of powerful women in Rim Country.
“I really wanted to talk about the women,” she said.
Instead of describing what each model wore during the fashion show, Lahti highlighted their skills and accomplishments.
From chiropractor Elizabeth Summers with Bee Well who has been in business 14 years in Payson, to Leanne Pocalun, owner of Black and Tan Tales, and Kathy Vance, a hospice volunteer and home health care social worker.
Other model women included Nancy Landino, a member of Rim Country Rotary, Tonto Community Concert Association and Payson Pro Rodeo Committee to Su Connell, voted Payson’s best town councilor.
“Su is a new bride who believes it is better to be over 70 and voluptuous than 21 and skinny,” Lahti said.