Jeff Kleiman has put his hobby of building models to good use by putting together dollhouses for multiple PDC Orenda Center Sheltering Hearts fundraisers.
His latest dollhouse was a live auction item at PDC Orenda Center’s 15th annual fundraiser, Sheltering Hearts, which returned February 14. The fundraiser supports the organization’s mission of providing resources for victims of domestic and sexual violence, including shelter.
“I thought, what better symbolizes a safe and happy home than a dollhouse? That sense of security, happiness, almost innocence – it seemed to be emblematic of what we’re trying to do,” he explained.
The dollhouses are put together from kits which allow room for creativity. This year, Kleiman based his creation on the Painted Ladies, a term for colorful Victorian and Edwardian homes found in cities like San Francisco.
Avid PDC supporter Kathleen Rulka came across the dollhouse after spotting a Facebook post a year ago by a couple in Texas who had a kit for sale. After letting them know her plan to donate the dollhouse for the fundraiser auction, the couple expressed their support for the cause and agreed to ship it.
Several days later, three huge boxes arrived at her porch. Once opened, Rulka realized the kit required someone with experience and contacted the Kleimans.
“He does a great job and he has a huge heart,” said Rulka. “Jeff and Kim do a lot for our community. Anyone who knows them is not surprised they did something like this.”
Kleiman spent countless hours over several months researching the colorful Victorian style homes in library books and choosing just the right contrasting colors – golden yellow, deep blue, and bright pink – to give the effect of a late 19th century home. Interior rooms were wallpapered with materials from the kit. He augmented the dollhouse with his own trim and with furniture donated by LeAnne Schwartz.
The finished product is his most colorful creation to date. Next year, he plans to find a smaller dollhouse with a chimney so an incense stick can be lit to allow smoke to rise realistically from the top.
Kleiman hopes there will be even more in attendance when the fundraiser returns next February and the cause remains in people’s minds.
“Domestic abuse is widespread, it is perennial, and it does not respect people’s backgrounds,” he said. “They shouldn’t lose sight of this. The dollhouse is a tangible reminder of at least of the idea of a happy, safe home.”
For over forty years, the PDC Orenda Center has served all ages in the greater Marshfield area and all of Clark County with services specialized to each victim’s needs. Since fall, the organization has been able to add safe, temporary housing to its list of services.
Community support through events like Sheltering Hearts plays no small part in allowing the organization to continue its work.
“It’s always great to have our friends altogether for a beautiful evening and a nice dinner,” said Renee Shulz, Executive Director. “This being our longest-running and biggest fundraising event, having donations, for example the beautiful dollhouse, is instrumental to PDC to be able to continue with our mission.”
The fundraiser is typically held around Valentine’s Day, though this is the first year it’s fallen on the day itself.
Since the opening of the new shelter, the PDC has expanded its staff and services to meet the community need to have a safe location for victims and their children.
“We’re starting out strong,” she said. “We can really see that we’re meeting the need and making good connections with individuals, and are watching the successes already.”
Since opening in October, the shelter has provided 567 nights of safety for 11 adults and 10 children with an average stay of 51 nights. The comparative hotel stays for those same number of nights would have been over $50,000, far above the PDC’s budget.
The shelter allows families, whether they stay two weeks or two months, to be successful in living a safe and independent life.
“Every situation is very different,” said Schulz. “We provide the services and support that these individuals need for wherever they’re at and provide them with the options so they can make informed decisions as they move forward, and we’re here to support them along the way.”