Leader Blues

Monday, June 11, 2007

TOP STORY >>Safe Haven seeks donations to continue mission

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Lonoke County Safe Haven has moved into a house in the northern part of the county and is taking in women and children who need refuge from domestic violence, but money is tight and the organization is asking area residents for donations to help pay the bills at the house.

Brenda Reynolds, Safe Haven director, said a state grant pays most of the salaries for the three full-time and three part-time employees. And the house it’s been allowed to use for one year is rent free, but summer is almost here and the electric bill is almost certain to soar.

Safe Haven needs businesses and individuals who will commit to giving money each month so those monthly bills can be paid.

But it also needs volunteers. Reynolds says they have 20 now, but they could use twice that many. Volunteers are needed to stay in the shelter at night with the women and children, to answer the hotline phones and to help the women find their way through the legal system.

In May the shelter averaged four women and five children. When they left, most took nothing with them. So the shelter gives them what they need to survive.

Most are poor, Reynolds said. Although domestic violence crosses all socio-economic boundaries, in the Cabot area, the women who have come to the shelter in the two months it has been open have not had the money to go anywhere else.
Since lack of cash is the most pressing problem for Safe Haven, volunteers who are good at planning fundraisers are also needed.

Reynolds said it will take about $200,000 a year to run the house. Safe Haven has applied for more grants and may get some of them. But nothing is certain. Three summer fundraisers are planned, but more would be better and more money donations are critical to the shelter’s success, she said.

On June 18, Cabot United Methodist Church will host a four-man scramble golf tournament at Cypress Creek in Cabot. The deadline to enter is June 15. The cost of $75 a player includes a golf cart, green fees and lunch catered by The Meat Shoppe in downtown Gravel Ridge.

At 5 p.m. June 23, the Lonoke County Sheriff’s Department will host a rodeo at the Lonoke County Fairgrounds. Admission is $2.50 a person regardless of age. The events will include a greased-pig contest and barrel racing.

The proceeds from the Cabot Avenue of Dreams, a tour of new homes sponsored by the Cabot Home Builders Association, will go to the shelter. The tour preview is the weekend of June 30–July 1. The first tour is July 7-8 from 2 to 5 p.m. and the second is 2 to 5 p.m., July 14-15. Tickets are available at Kroger.

The women who stay at the shelter have tried to leave their abusive partners an average of eight times. Most work, but have had little control over the money they’ve earned. At the shelter they begin to learn to stand on their own, Reynolds said, and the hope is that area residents will reward that effort with the financial support the shelter must have to stay open. For more information, call Reynolds at 501 628-4233.