Safe Haven raising money for expansion

Shelter needs $425K for project
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Safe Haven has been providing shelter to domestic violence victims for 15 years, but the space available is no longer enough to help those in need.

To that end, Safe Haven is hoping to break ground on an expansion next spring, if it can raise the $425,000 needed to finance the addition.

There are five bedrooms in the existing shelter on Lakeland Road, along with office space for the staff. The expansion plans include three more bedrooms and additional office space, Safe Haven Executive Director Stacey Cicero said, along with updated technology and security systems and a new roof.

Safe Haven opened the shelter’s doors on Feb. 11, 2002. The first family arrived by 9 a.m. Since then, the shelter has rarely been empty, as there has been at least one family in need at any given time, Cicero said.

“Last year, 99 percent of the time there were at least two families in the shelter,” she said. “The expansion is really needed to give people their own space.”

In 2016, the shelter was overcrowded for 104 days, with more families needing shelter than there were rooms available; some families shared spaces. Overcrowding was worse in 2015, with 253 days of more than five families residing there.

“When you come into a domestic violence shelter, you’re obviously in crisis. You obviously have a lot going on,” Cicero said. “To have to share a building with a stranger, especially if you have kids, it’s just not conducive to a healing place.”

The lack of office space has required staff to occupy space in the shelter itself, Cicero said, and there is almost nowhere for confidentiality. The expansion will include space where clients waiting for services can sit in privacy and not be seen by other visitors.

There will be other private areas for outreach services, which account for 88 percent of the work Safe Haven does.

“We’ve really grown with our outreach services, our support groups and individual advocacy,” Cicero said. “We don’t have any confidential space in our building except for our small conference room. We’ve found that the ladies in our shelter don’t want people to know they’re staying in the shelter.”

Safe Haven’s fundraising received a kick-start from a $50,000 matching grant from the Larry and Donna Rae Klement family.

Cicero has also started to solicit individual donors in the area and plans to seek donations from the community.

Safe Haven announced the grant at its Big Reveal banquet on Sept. 29, and Cicero is hoping the awareness will spread throughout the county.

“We’ve already got a good start (in matching funds) with people that donated at the Big Reveal, and some, in declining their invitation, sent money instead,” Cicero said. “Information is now going out to 100 of our primary donors. It’s on our website and Facebook page. We’re just going to get out there and making the ask.”

Cicero doesn’t expect to have all the money by the groundbreaking in the spring, but she thinks once the building starts, donors will provide sufficient funding to complete the project.

“Once you start building and people see it, then they’ve got something to give to,” Cicero said.

BY THE NUMBERS

• Safe Haven provided safe housing for 38 women and 32 children from January to June of this year. The average length of stay was 19.2 days.

• Safe Haven had three full-time staff members in 2001. In 2017, there are six full-time and 12 part-time staff.

• The fundraising goal of the shelter expansion project is $425,000.

• In the first six months of 2017, 476 individuals made 1,627 crisis calls, 12 emails and 29 texts to Safe Haven. Of those individuals, 407 were female and 69 were male.

• The oldest person to use shelter services was 83.

• Through June 2017, the shelter has provided a place to live for 1,003 women, 1,152 children and 15 men since opening its doors in 2002.