Wild and Wonderful Women Event to Rock Heritage Port This Weekend

Celebrate the women of West Virginia in luxury at Wheeling’s annual Paint the Town Pink event hosted by Crittenton Services Inc.

Each year, Crittenton Services hosts Paint the Town Pink with a theme in mind, and this year it is the women of West Virginia and the Ohio Valley. The event will be held at the Wheeling Heritage Port with grand décor and a beautiful view of the Ohio River.

Jasmin Ilovar, Public Communications Coordinator with Crittenton Services, is downright giddy over the upcoming event. 

It will be one of the best social events of the year! Heritage Port will be transformed into a beautiful outdoor ballroom with a grand tent, gorgeous flowers and stunning lighting,” said Ilovar.

“Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres from local women and couple-led restaurants while sipping on West Virginia craft beers and wines on the waterfront.” 

This special evening boasts live music performed by Huntington-based band Cypress, raffles and a silent auction for all to enjoy. Exemplary West Virginia women will be featured throughout the night as well. 

 “I think our strongest contribution to the Ohio Valley is our presence as an agency that supports the mental health of children, women, and families,” said Ilovar. 

“We are providing services in local elementary schools through our TIES (Trauma-Informed Elementary Schools) and Willow Tree Learning Academy programs, for the greater community through Wellspring Family Services, and for at-risk adolescent women and young mothers through our residential program.”

It only makes perfect sense that this year’s theme shines the spotlight on the women that make this state special.

“This year’s theme is in honor of the amazing women, across time and professions, who have made an impact on the lives of countless West Virginians,” said Ilovar. 

“We hope that these women will not only inspire our guests but will also inspire our clients to know that they too can achieve great things despite their traumatic histories of abuse and neglect.”

Jessica Rine, Executive Director of the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, will be attending and has been looking forward to the gala all year. 

“I’ve really missed going to galas over the last couple of years and I’m excited that they’re coming back. Paint the Town Pink was one of the first galas I attended in the Ohio Valley,” said Rine.

Jessica Rine, Executive Director of at United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, makes a point of attending local galas and she won’t be missing Paint the Town Pink.

While some may not lean into galas and all glamour, Rine believes there is a lot more to it.

“Some people lovingly call galas ‘adult prom’ because it’s a chance for adults to get all dolled up in beautiful dresses and sharp suits or tuxes and dance the night away. But also, the Ohio Valley community loves to support its nonprofit organizations,” said Rine. 

“Beyond the attire, beautiful decorations, delicious food and great live music, you are supporting the organization who hosts the event.”

Employees and associates of Fitzsimmons Law Firm attending Paint the Town Pink in 2018.

Deneve McAfee is one of many who have benefited from Crittenton Services. 

McAfee lived at Crittenton for four months when she was 15 years old. Though she didn’t have any children, her stay taught her more than she could ever imagine and helped her become the mother she is today. 

“I was there for treatment as another option instead of juvenile prison,” said McAfee. 

“I learned a lot while there; mostly about how to take care of myself as a young adult and how to care for children (and) keeping routines and that kind of stuff — Employability and how to show up to an interview.” 

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She was also taught kitchen safety techniques, including preventing food contamination, child safety and how to store different types of food. 

“I also learned how to communicate effectively with people I don’t get along with,” said McAfee.  “(I also) got to learn from other people’s situations.”

McAfee is now a CFT Supervisor at Northwood Health Systems. She did end up returning to Crittenton Services with her son, Chad, years later after he was diagnosed with autism.

“It was such a great experience! They have really taken the time to bring different (types) of therapy to this area for kids besides just the typical sit and talk method,” said McAfee.

Deneve McAfee (far right) with her son Chad and husband Joshua McAfee.

“We enjoyed our weekly sessions (and) Chad graduated therapy. We have been doing well since and still use a lot of the coping methods that we learned in therapy for everyday life.”

Crittenton Services doesn’t just serve individuals, but generations of citizens that grow and succeed from their work. Paint the Town Pink is one of many ways you can assist in their mission. 

“I think that there is a lot of public stigma against mental and behavioral health in the U.S, especially in more rural areas like Appalachia. It is great to know that I can help Crittenton Services reduce that stigma,” said Ilovar.

“Our event would be considered cocktail or ‘pink’ tie optional. This is an opportunity to get dressed up for a night out and gather with friends and family to celebrate the amazing women in our community and state.”

While Ilovar is prepared to enjoy the music and food, she is more so looking forward to the local businesses being featured.

“I am most excited about all the local businesses we will be able to feature, especially those owned by women. Many of our silent auction and raffle gifts and experiences were donated by local businesses and community members,” said Ilovar. 

“And most of our vendors, such as catering, beer and wine, band, and florist are small West Virginia businesses/individuals. Our event is about getting the community together to celebrate and support West Virginia, and that is what Crittenton Services have been able to achieve.”

While events like these help Crittenton Service grow and thrive, Ilovar wants the public to know there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.

Crittenton Services is more than just ‘a home for pregnant girls.’ While that was how we started over 127 years ago, we are so much more than that. Crittenton Services is the only facility in West Virginia licensed to meet the specialized behavioral and health needs of adolescent pregnant and parenting women—keeping both mother and baby together through treatment,” said Ilovar. 

“Additionally, we provide trauma-informed mental health services across the state and in local schools. We hope to help break the generational cycle of trauma, which can be a root cause of mental and behavioral health issues for many people in our community.” 

Ilovar also says that while it is unfortunate that their services are needed, they will continue to be here to help those in our community to heal, grow and thrive.

This event, which has been held for 18 years, is available to the public with the purchase of a ticket.

Paint the Town Pink will be held on Saturday, June 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Wheeling Heritage Port and Amphitheater.  Tickets are $75 per person, $125 per couple or $500 per table. You can purchase tickets online or call 304-242-7060. 

• With a background in journalism and being a true Wheeling native, Jessica Broverman was destined to work with Weelunk. She holds a degree in journalism with a minor in criminal justice and works with Williams Lea Tag as a legal proofreader. When she isn’t typing away for Weelunk or WLT, she is enjoying a coffee at one of her many favorite spots in Wheeling, spending time with friends, or having fun with her husband Zachary and their two cats, Proctor and Max.