Desoto County News

Purse Project benefit helps House of Grace shelter

Photo: A plethora of items up on a silent auction as part of the Purse Project event Thursday at the Red Barn Reception Hall in Hernando. (Bob Bakken/

The statistics House of Grace Domestic Violence Shelter Executive Director Sarita Drake will recite to you are staggering when asked about the level there is for abuse in a household.  

“We are looking at about 50 percent of the households that have domestic violence to the point where the woman, children, and even men are in danger of losing their lives,” Drake said. “Every single day we have someone that’s asking us to help and we give everything we can with all of our resources.”

Sarita Drake, House of Grace Executive Director

The significance of the need and the impact the House of Grace has had in fighting domestic violence in the DeSoto County area is the reason for the annual Purple Purse Project luncheon, live and silent auction, held Thursday at the Red Barn Reception Hall in Hernando.  Purple is the color of domestic violence awareness, said Drake.  

The event takes place in October as part of the Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 39.7 percent of Mississippi women and 31.7 percent of Mississippi men experience intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence, threats and emotional abuse.  

The complete rundown on Mississippi statistics are found on the NCADV website.  

Thursday’s Purse Project luncheon and auction is the largest fundraising function that the House of Grace has each year, Drake said.  

“One hundred percent of the money that we make past our expenses goes to the shelter for the House of Grace, to our bills and salaries, light, gas and water that we have,” Drake said. “I believe last year we made $13,000, which is fantastic. Our expenses for the month are about $11,000.”

An event like the Purse Project is especially needed for the House of Grace at this time, as the nonprofit shelter has seen grant funding resources dwindle while the demand remains strong, and constant.

“We really need a larger shelter,” Drake said. “Our dream is to pay off the shelter we have, and we owe about $95,000, to get a bigger shelter because we are at capacity. We can take 12 women at a time. 

Between counseling, a small food pantry, Bible study, and group help, women and children in need receive about 30-45 days in an undisclosed shelter, whatever they may need.  

Items on display for sale during the Purse Project event.
(Bob Bakken/

“The need is so great that it is unbelievable,” Drake said. “We get three or four calls, every single day.”

While those attending were bidding on a hall full of items, and enjoying a luncheon buffet, they were also addressing a need to help women in danger of harm or death from someone they thought they knew and trusted in a relationship.