SPARTA, NJ - “When you’re homeless and someone offers you help, it’s a big deal,” said Dawn Metzger, Director at the Samaritan Inn.

She was one of many in attendance at Sunday’s 9th Annual Grape Expectations Wine Tasting Event held at the Lake Mohawk County Club from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefitted the Samaritan Inn, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides housing, education and food banks for the homeless in Sussex County since 1977.

Their mission, according to their website, is that they provide “emergency food and temporary shelter to homeless families in Sussex County as well as a program of counseling and skill building in family maintenance and growth. Its core values are: Service, Social Justice, Competence, and Human Dignity.”

 The event featured a silent and a live auction, gourmet food, wine tasting and live instrumental music. Approximately 51 items were available for the silent auction, with baskets ranging from Flat Screen TVs to Coach sunglasses and Nintendo Wii’s, to mini vacations at Crystal Springs, while there were three live auctions items, including a painting, tickets to a Yankees vs. Red Sox Game and a trip to a condo in Costa Rica.

“We’re hoping for fundraising to get us through the year and to raise awareness of homelessness in Sussex County. We’re expecting over one-hundred people to come and there will be some testimony from a client about how she was helped through our programs and about her success,” said Metzger.

That former client was Sarah Ausberry who had a three-month stay at the Samaritan Inn with her infant daughter. Ausberry came to Newton, NJ alone, pregnant, dealing with bipolar disorder and having left a domestic violence situation. Metzger convinced her that Samaritan Inn was there for her and able to help.

“Samaritan Inns tactics brought me to a level of awareness. I was aware in realizing that I could change myself first before I could move forward in my quest for independence, in housing and in financial security,” said Ausberry, during a short speech. “Having no one to turn to, they were there for me in more ways than one and I am greatly appreciative of their efforts.”

During the fundraiser, Bridgitte Walsh was honored as the 2012 Samaritan of the Year. Walsh was a volunteer at the Samaritan Inn during its inception in 1977. She has worked relentlessly since then in multiple capacities to help see to the success of the Samaritan Inn and its programs.

Metzger was pleased and excited to be able to discuss four of the programs the Samaritan Inn offers: the Family Shelter Program, the Emergency Motel Program, the Food Pantry Program and the Cooking with Coupons Program, the newest of the initiatives at only about two-years old.

Sign Up for E-News

The Cooking with Coupons Program operates in three parts: part one teaches clients how to use coupons to make food stamps last, part two has the clients work with budgeting with the goal being to budget for a vacation within five years and part three teaches clients how to make multiple meals with one food item to help spread out their meals.

“We hope to create more awareness for Samaritan Inn. We’d like to raise more funds that will go to the Emergency Motel Program, so that when people need it, we have it for them,” said Bob Commentucci, Treasurer for Samaritan Inn. “This is the one big event during the year when we can make the public aware of Samaritan Inn and we’re getting bigger every year!”

People that attended the event said they were all more than happy to help the Samaritan Inn during the fundraiser.

 “I’ve been volunteering for the Samaritan Inn for thirteen or fourteen years,” said Nancy Sonderfan of Blairstown. “I try to come to as many events as I can. They’re so dear to my heart, they do such great work.”

When asked for a reason for the success of the Grape Expectations Wine Tasting Event year after year, Metzger responded, “We have a lot of people that support us and come to the event every year.”

The Samaritan Inn is currently full with three families waiting to get in.

 For more information on the Samaritan Inn, or to make your own contribution to help the homeless in Sussex County, please visit their website at They are located at 48 Wyker Road, Franklin, N.J.