No more safe HAVEN

Agency suspends operations with no timeline for return
Aug. 21, 2013 @ 06:00 PM

The largest local provider of services for women and children seeking help with domestic violence is shutting down — at least temporarily.

HAVEN (Helping Abuse and Violence End Now) in Lee County has suspended various operations — including its counseling and advocacy programs, shelter and emergency transportation and community outreach and education initiatives — and is reorganizing while trying to get its finances in order, according to a press release distributed late Wednesday.

Despite all the other service stoppages, the agency's 24-hour crisis hotline at (919) 774-8923 will remain active for people to call. There's no indication of when the rest of the group's services could resume.

"This decision was not made lightly by the board, but we want the community to understand that this is temporary and we are moving forward with a plan to put HAVEN on a stronger footing," wrote Carol Carlson, the chairman of the group's board of directors.

The press release attributes the nonprofit's financial woes to a combination of increased expenses and decreased funding. It also stated that the group's board of directors met with local government leaders, banking and financial officials, major contributors from the community and other interested parties to try to determine its next steps.

Jan Hayes, executive director of the United Way of Lee County — a major funding source for HAVEN — said she was at that Wednesday meeting and that she supports the group's mission. She also said she believes this isn't the end for HAVEN, the only nonprofit specifically focused on domestic violence that she knew of in the area.

"It will be reorganizing, and I except them to reopen pretty soon," Hayes said. "This is temporary, and they will work very hard to make HAVEN even stronger when it reopens."

In the meantime, HAVEN's board of directors and some employees reportedly have been working to relocate the 20-plus women and children staying in the group's confidential shelter.