Thursday, 22 February 2024

New LaForge Memorial Fund to raise funds for violence victims

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A new fund remembers 2002 murder victim Barbara LaForge and seeks to raise money to help violence victims. Lake County News file photo.

 



LAKEPORT – It's been five and a half years since Barbara LaForge was murdered in her downtown business. It's an unsolved crime that continues to haunt those who knew her and the community at large.


Now, LaForge's friend, Gail Salituri, an artist whose gallery shared space with LaForge's frame shop, is founding an effort to not only keep LaForge's memory alive but also to benefit other victims of violence.


Beginning April 1, Salituri is kicking off a fundraising campaign for the LaForge Memorial Fund.

 

LaForge, a talented artist and framer, was shot to death on a weekday morning in the downtown gallery in October of 2002. The case remains open and under active investigation, according to police.

 

Salituri's motto for the campaign is, “It's never too late to be remembered.”


The fund is now open at Westamerica Bank, Salituri said, and can receive private donations, all of which will benefit Lake Family Resource Center's domestic violence shelter fundraising campaign.


As part of the fundraiser, Salituri will hold raffles and silent auctions of artwork in the coming months.


Gloria Flaherty, executive director of Lake Family Resource Center, said Salituri's offer was a definite surprise.


“Gail's offer was, like, a bolt from the blue,” Flaherty said.


The idea appears to have sprung from a contact between Wilda Shock, a member of the center's Wine and Chocolate committee, who initially spoke to Salituri about donating a painting for that event's silent auction. The Wine and Chocolate Fundraiser was held in February.


Salituri did donate a painting, but she decided she wanted to become further involved.


"For years, I have thought long and hard about how we can remember Barbara LaForge,” said Salituri. “When I was introduced to this project by Wilda Shock, I knew immediately this would be the perfect venue and remembrance.


“Although I do know it is five and a half years later, I felt it was never too late to do something, and the motto immediately came into my mind, 'It's never too late to be remembered,'” Salituri added. “Helping someone in distress is something that is close to my heart, and also something Barbara would have done.”


Having Salituri's support is a special addition to the shelter effort, said Flaherty. “She's such a respected artist, and to have someone of her status to volunteer to assist is humbling, and it's an honor.”


The LaForge fund's creation comes in time for the official launch of the shelter project's capital campaign, scheduled for later this month, said Flaherty.


Over the last year, the shelter project has raised $130,000, which Flaherty called “seed money” for the campaign. “The ultimate goal is around $3 million,” said Flaherty.


Flaherty said the $3 million figure will depend on a combination of government and private foundation grants, along with local fundraising.


In addition to the actual funds raised, Flaherty said they're also receiving donations of materials and help.


Sutter Lakeside Hospital will lease the center property for the shelter at $1 a year for 50 years, said Flaherty. Kelseyville Lumber will provide building materials at cost plus 5 percent. Other community members, including contractors, are offering labor and other types of help.


The April fundraiser will include a silent auction for a newly painted, original Salituri oil, “Lake County Hills Spring Bloom.” The painting features Salituri's eye-popping use of color and light to portray the local landscape. The framed 8-inch by 10-inch original is valued at $475.

 

 

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For the raffle, noted local watercolor artist John Clarke – who each year paints an original watercolor for use as the Lake County Wine Auction poster – is donating a lithograph of his painting, “Golden Gate,” valued at $125 unframed. Salituri's Inspirations Gallery and Frame Shop will donate framing on the painting, for a total value of $400.

 

 

 

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Salituri said the opening bid for her painting in the silent auction is $85; tickets for the raffle to win Clarke's lithograph will cost $5 each or five tickets for $20.


Tickets go on sale and silent auction bids open on April 1, said Salituri, with Kathy Fowler, a member of the Lake Family Resource Center Board of Directors, scheduled to draw the winning raffle ticket on June 1.


After the June 1 event, Salituri said she will open bids for the next silent auction and begin offering tickets for a new raffle, which will be held later in the summer.


Tickets will be available at Inspirations Gallery, 165 N. Main St., Lakeport; Lake Family Resource Center, 896 Lakeport Blvd., Lakeport; and the Lakeport Chamber of Commerce, 875 Lakeport Blvd.


Those interested in the fund also can visit Salituri's Web page, www.gailsalituri.com/Memorial.html.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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