Haven House: Working toward a safer community

Thirty-seven years after it was founded, the South Peninsula Haven House remains dedicated to its mission of supporting and empowering individuals and families impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse by advocating for justice and providing safe shelter, crisis intervention, prevention and victim advocacy.

According to Executive Director Ronnie Leach, Haven House’s goals for the next three years are to “operate a safe, well-run shelter; retain and employ a high-performing staff; recruit and train volunteers to provide backup duties downstairs and in the shelter; increase awareness about the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault in our community; prevention and how our programs address those impacts; increase education around child abuse…[and] increase community partnerships which further the mission of Haven House and help extend our outreach.”

Located in Homer and serving the southern Kenai Peninsula, Haven House provided 3,779 shelter bed nights during Fiscal Year 2017. They received 467 crisis calls, 168 child advocacy cases, served 227 children, and made 229 agency referrals.

Haven House’s shelter services are available for people of all backgrounds and genders. It supports individuals and families in need or crisis. Although this service remains at the heart of their mission, they also provide advocacy and prevention services and programs. Haven House’s programs include an emergency 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, victim advocacy, Children’s Advocacy Centers located in Homer and Kenai, the Child Care Food Program, the Homeless Assistance Program and the Homer Thrift Store.

In addition, under their prevention program, which is part of the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)’s statewide prevention efforts, Haven House helps to facilitate several prevention activities, including the Green Dot Homer program and Girls on the Run (GOTR) International. They also offer health education to eighth- and ninth-grade classes at Homer Middle School.

Green Dot Homer is part of the statewide program aimed at educating and empowering individuals in proactively and re-actively preventing violence in the community, including domestic violence and sexual assault.

Green Dot Homer held a Community Bystander Training session last Saturday at Many Rivers Yoga Studio. For more information, find Green Dot Homer on Facebook or visit www.greendothomer.org.

Girls on the Run is an opportunity for girls in grades 3-5 to train for a 5 kilometer running event. The program pairs the discipline of physical exercise with learning life lessons, self-respect, and empowerment in a safe and fun environment through mentorship. As stated on its website, Haven House is a community partner under the Girls on the Run of Greater Alaska Council.

Haven House’s prevention staff are currently recruiting participants and volunteer coaches for the Girls on the Run spring edition. The 10-week program begins on Feb. 19 and will be held at West Homer Elementary on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:45 p.m.-4:30 p.m. At the end of the season, all girls registered for GOTR will participate in the 5K Color Run on Saturday, May 19. For more information, please visit www.gotrgreateralaska.org.

As part of its effort to support the empowerment of women and recognize their accomplishments in the community, the South Peninsula Haven House supports the nationwide Women of Distinction awards program. T

his year, they will be giving out awards for Woman of Distinction, Woman of Wisdom, and Young Woman of Distinction. Haven House is now accepting nominations for the 2018 Women of Distinction awards. Nomination forms can be found at www.havenhousealaska.org or at South Peninsula Haven House on 3776 Lake Street. Nomination forms can be submitted to South Peninsula Haven House or the Homer Thrift Store on Ocean Drive by March 1.

Recipients of the 2018 Women of Distinction awards will be announced at a celebration on Friday, April 13, at Alice’s Champagne House. There also will be a dinner and a live auction.

In pursuing the direction illustrated in their mission statement, Haven House is pushing to spread awareness of the impact of domestic violence and sexual assault on all members of the community, including men, women, and children. There has been immense positive response from the southern Kenai Peninsula community, but there is still so much work to be done. To donate or learn how to get involved with South Peninsula Haven House and break the cycles of violence in our community, visit www.havenhousealaska.org.

Contact information:

South Peninsula Haven House: 24-Hour Help Line: 907-235-8943. For all other inquiries, call 907-235-7712

Delcenia Cosman is a freelance writer living in Anchor Point, who attends Kachemak Bay Campus.