By MELINDA WILLIAMS
Since its inception seven years ago funding for Safe Haven Child Visitation Centers of the NRV has come from its annual Guns-N-Hoses charity softball game, grants and government contributions and donations from churches, civic organizations and individuals.
But over the past few years, economic conditions have virtually dried up many funding options, making it difficult to make ends meet. As a result, the all-volunteer nonprofit agency is expanding its options by partnering with The Community Foundation of the New River Valley.
Citizens can now make safe and secure, tax deductible donations to Safe Haven through The Community Foundation’s “GiveBigNRV” program by visiting the website, safehaven99.wordpress.com.
“They can just click on the donate button and their donation will go straight to Safe Haven,” said agency director Ellen Mitchell. “The donor will get a receipt and they can choose to make it a one-time donation or a monthly or annual pledge.”
Mitchell said the agency already has received several donations since partnering with The Community Foundation. Safe Haven volunteers provide supervised child visitations and exchanges between parents when courts issue protective or custody orders that require a third party to be present for visitations or exchanges.
“We live month to month and we have for the past seven years,” said Mitchell. “We’re starting to question our sustainability because we can’t continue month-to-month for seven more years.”
Mitchell said many people might not realize the importance of Safe Haven’s services, which are no longer being offered through many government agencies.
“A wise man once told me if someone never used our facility they don’t understand its importance,” Mitchell said. “But you never know when you might need to use it.”
In the past seven years Safe Haven has served more than 350 families in the 27th Judicial District through offices in Pulaski, Wythe and Montgomery counties. Wythe and Montgomery facilities have temporarily closed due to a lack of volunteers. The agency serves eight counties and three cities.
“We work very hard to make Safe Haven a comfortable and stress-free environment for the children that we serve. Most of these children have been traumatized by domestic violence, abuse or neglect,” she said. “At this point, there are things we need in order to continue our efforts to keep these children safe during this fragile time in their lives, and the extra money is just not there.”
Mitchell said grants are “few and far between” so Safe Haven “must rely on the generosity of our supporters to continue.”
She asked citizens to make a donation through The Community Foundation website, cfnrv.org or safehaven99.wordpress.com, if the community “supports our efforts and agrees there is a critical need for our services.”
She added, “I wouldn’t ask if this was not a serious need. Any amount is appreciated.”
To volunteer with Safe Haven or obtain more information about the agency, call 808-0096.