Shelter from Abuse: The Haven protects women, children from suffering
The Haven, a nonprofit that assists women who have endured forms of abuse, was established with the purpose of opening an emergency shelter for women.
In 2012, the dream of opening an emergency shelter came to life because they received the Community Development Block Grant.
Both the agency and the City of Remerton connected to begin the construction of a new sexual assault center.
This shelter allowed The Haven to service more people and create more programs and services such as pediatric and adult medical forensic exams, legal and outreach, and an on-staff therapist for people who have endured domestic violence or sexual assault.
Other programs include community education and prevention awareness, financial assistance and monthly community support groups for both people who have endured domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Greater Valdosta United Way agency services Lowndes, Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Berrien, Cook, Lanier, Clinch and Atkinson counties.
“The Haven has grown tremendously since opening its doors,” Michelle Girtman, The Haven executive director, said. “We have moved three times since starting the emergency shelter. However, each time has been to meet the growing need for services in our communities.”
As The Haven has continued to grow, so have its staff. The staff at the organization are to have a strong passion to help clients with a non-judgmental, trauma-informed approach. They must understand the cycles of abuse, comprehend the multiple forms of domestic violence and violence against women and understand that no case is the same but every one is important.
The organization provides a 24 hours, seven days a week crisis line with emergency shelter staff who is trained to handle trauma. The crisis lines can be accessed at (229) 244-1765 or 1 (800) 33HAVEN.
In 2019, there were 214 women and children being sheltered at The Haven and 404 utilizing its non-residential services. In 2020, they were on track with similar numbers for services through the first three months of the year. Due to COVID-19, there was a pause in calls for about three weeks with the shelter in place.
Since mid-May, they have seen an increase in calls and victims seeking services as well as previous victims reaching back out for help due to lack of employment related to COVID-19.
COVID-19 has affected The Haven in other ways as well. They currently cannot accept volunteers due to safety measures and Georgia’s state of emergency order. Non-financial donations are currently limited and only items requested through social media “that can be taken directly to families as they move out of the shelter” are being accepted, Girtman said.
Annual fundraisers and other events have been canceled and the agency has suffered funding cuts and state budget cuts due to the pandemic and social distancing rules.
Monetary donations are being accepted via valdostahaven.org or by calling (229) 241-7047.
Client needs are posted at facebook.com/valdostahaven.