Annual auction benefits mental health service

Desiree Bartoe

Tim and Tricia Surgen built their home with the intention of sharing it.

On Saturday the couple welcomed more than 250 guests to their Riverbend Estates home for the 18th annual Right at Home Benefit, an art auction to raise money for Coleman Professional Services, a local non-profit mental health care service.

After being escorted by a valet service to the house, some guests ducked under a large canopy to enjoy cocktails, wine and hors d’oeuvres catered by the Rusty Nail, while others ventured inside to explore the home’s Victorian-style interior and view the artwork displayed downstairs.

“This event is a great opportunity for the community to come together and support local artists and the great work of Coleman,” said Patti Finley, manager of Coleman Travel Services, a sister organization of the Coleman Professional Services. “It is a great way to get to know the community, the artists and the people of Coleman.”

Unlike many mental health organizations, Coleman Professional Services offers services to Portage County residents regardless of their ability to pay. Therefore, the organization relies on fundraising and donations to finance its business.

Every year, local established artists donate their artwork to the organization for the Right at Home Benefit, Coleman’s main fundraiser. The gallery is set up in a local home and guests bid on the artwork and other prizes through a silent auction.

The gallery featured more than 50 pieces from various artists, including Ben Bassham, Henry Walker and Eric May.

Ben Bassham, a retired Kent State art history professor, has donated a piece to the benefit every year since the mid-90s, he said. This year, he donated a piece called On the Rio Conejos, drawing his inspiration from a beautiful spring morning in New Mexico.

“I woke up one morning, and it was snowing,” Bassham said. “I knew if it was snowing where I was it was snowing in the mountains and painting a beautiful picture.”

He went to the mountains, and the snow was frosting the trees. As he was walking, Bassham said he saw the Rio Conejos.

“I saw the river, and I saw the beauty,” he said. “I wanted to donate it to this benefit because I thought it would be an attractive piece. I thought this one would get a broad appeal, and people would like it.”

All the Right at Home Benefit artwork is professionally framed by McKay Bricker Gallery and Framing. Bob and Cass Mayfield, owners of the Kent business, have donated their services to the benefit for several years.

“It usually takes about 40 hours to frame all of the artwork,” Cass said. “Each year (the event) keeps getting bigger and bigger, but we can’t walk away from it because we are devoted to the organization. They do a lot of good for the community, and they use their money very well.”

According to its Web site, the organization provides services to approximately 3,000 individuals every year.

“Mental health and mental illness strike universally across the boards,” Bassham said. “It is expensive to treat, and Coleman is extremely effective in its efforts. They have become a major influence in the community.”

Contact social services beat reporter Desiree Bartoe at [email protected].