Contact: Ellen Quinn, Public Information Officer, 1-218-726-2621
St. Louis County To Honor Safe Haven Volunteers Tomorrow
As part of St. Louis County’s Sesquicentennial year, the County is presenting a Volunteer Recognition Award to Safe Haven volunteers tomorrow, Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 9:30 AM at the Duluth Courthouse as part of its regular St. Louis County Board meeting. St. Louis County Attorney Alan Mitchell will present the St. Louis County Volunteer Recognition Award to Safe Haven Women’s Shelter volunteers.
Safe Haven Shelter for Battered Women (SHS) has been in existence since March of 1978. Its Shelter Program provides 39 beds for battered women and their children. They serve over 450 women and their children each year by providing food, clothing and transportation as well as one‑on‑one advocacy and support groups. Its Legal Advocacy program, officed in the Building for Women, provides assistance with Orders for Protection and Harassment Orders, and advocacy for victims in both civil and criminal court. This program serves about 700 women a year. Its overall mission is to provide women and their children with advocacy, safety and a space to heal.
It is appropriate that we make this presentation today, October 10th. In 1987, October was proclaimed Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States. Domestic Violence is not a gender issue; it is a public safety and public health issue. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.5 million women and 800,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year in the United States. Across the country, people involved in
the battered women’s movement are planning events to draw attention to the reality of violence in the home, and the work that is being done to end this violence. This October, Safe Haven Shelter will be busy bringing domestic violence issues into the community’s spotlight. To kick off the month, SHS, along with other Duluth and Superior organizations, will sponsor a candlelight vigil. The "Changing the Climate of Tolerance" vigil aims to put the issue of domestic violence in the spotlight, while encouraging community members to actively oppose domestic violence in their community.
In addition to this event, SHS will be holding an "Overcoming Family Violence" fundraising luncheon. The purpose of this luncheon will be to gather pledges for the upcoming fiscal year while educating community members on the issue of domestic violence and the services Safe Haven Shelter provides. Safe Haven employees will also be working together to present an interactive workshop titled "Behind the Scenes: Bringing Domestic Violence to the Forefront of People’s Minds" for "What’s Happening to Our Village?, at this year’s St. Louis County Health and Human Service conference. Finally, Safe Haven’s Education Advocates will continue to do community presentations, workshops, and training during October.
Essential to these events and this program is the integral role that volunteers play in the services that Safe Haven Shelter provides. SHS recruits and trains volunteers to work in all program areas. Utilizing volunteers not only enhances the services that Safe Haven Shelter provides, but also educates volunteers, collegiate interns and work‑study students on the issues of domestic violence. Volunteers can expect to receive a total of 40 hours of training over the course of a year at SHS. They can also anticipate being offered a wide variety of opportunities during their time at SHS. Volunteers participate in all areas of shelter work from clerical duties and donation collection to providing on‑call advocacy and facilitating focus groups.
This past year 266 people donated a total of 3,381 volunteer hours to SHS. With the addition this year of two full time volunteer coordinators/education advocates and the implementation of an on line volunteer management and recruitment software, those numbers are increasing. In the first month since its implementation the average volunteer hours per month increased by nearly 65%. With the coming of the fall semester and the completion of a new training program aimed specifically at college students, they are hoping for an even greater increase in volunteer participation.
These volunteers have made others aware of the effects of domestic violence. Prior victims have volunteered to share their story to aid current victims and to educate the general public on the issue of domestic violence. Others have provided on‑call advocacy to the partners of those who have been arrested for assault. They give those victims support and assist them with the legal process involved with domestic violence if it’s desired. These volunteers have also provided many services within the shelter ranging from backup receptionist to programming for the women and children in the shelter. This programming includes crafts, community health and assistance with the children. As the Volunteer Coordinator, Ed Heisler, indicated, "They are an extraordinary bunch of people." They make a huge commitment of their time in providing a service to those in need.
The volunteer process is simple and constructive for those willing to volunteer their valuable time and skills. SHS offers face‑to‑face interviews, online applications, flexible schedules and encourage creativity and initiative. One current volunteer sums up what she likes about volunteering at Safe Haven Shelter by saying, "People are really friendly. It’s a family like environment and people are appreciative of what you do for them."
This group of volunteers and their predecessors richly deserve this recognition for their dedication and positive contribution to the victims of domestic violence and this community. Those interested in volunteering with SHS, they can do so by contacting the Volunteer Coordinator at 218‑728‑6481 or check out the SHS website at www.safehavenshelter.org