Shelter expansion nears completion

Safe Haven hosts vigil, open house
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Leader photos by Carol Ryczek Staff and supporters of the Safe Haven Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Support Center share electronic candles and copies of “Let There Be Peace on Earth” as they prepared for the annual domestic abuse awareness vigil. The annual event was held inside due to Thursday’s cold, windy weather. The event also featured tours of the newly expanded and remodeled shelter.

Visitors to Safe Haven, Shawano’s Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault Support Center, shared a somber celebration Wednesday at an annual candlelight vigil and tour.

The annual vigil is a remembrance of those who have been injured or killed through domestic violence. This year, the event also included tours of the newly expanded and upgraded shelter.

Tours, refreshments and thanks to supporters added the note of celebration to the evening.

Renovations to the shelter, which have been underway since April, will be completed by Monday as the final bedrooms are painted and a floor is replaced, said Stacey Cicero, executive director.

“We have refurbished all but three of the bedrooms and we have volunteers coming this weekend to paint them,” Cicero said. “On Monday, they get new linoleum floors,” she added.

Fundraising for the project is at 84 percent, and Cicero said she is also looking forward to completing that portion of the project.

“We hope to be there by the end of the year,” she said.

The total cost for the expansion is $425,000, Safe Haven announced when it started its plans.

Tours of the building allowed the public to see additional offices, a meeting room with a kitchen, and upgraded computer and building security systems. The new offices and meeting rooms freed up the space for three new bedrooms, said Sue Dionne, shelter supervisor.

During the program, Cicero reminded everyone of why the shelter was needed.

“In 2017, there was a 23 percent increase in use over 2016,” she said, adding that 2018 will outpace the use in 2017. At one point in 2018, nine families were staying at the shelter.

Cicero said that the current attention to sexual abuse and assault may be having an impact on use of the shelter.

“Things like the ‘Me Too’ campaign really increase public awareness,” Cicero said. “It makes it possible for someone who had been reluctant to say anything — to not be afraid to come forward and speak. It creates an atmosphere where that is possible.”