Local crisis hotline returns as HAVEN continues recovery

Oct. 13, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

HAVEN in Lee County took another step toward full recovery last week, when local volunteers resumed working its 24-hour domestic violence hotline.

The outreach for those escaping domestic abuse and sexual violence closed its shelter operations in August after a "perfect storm" of increased expenses and a decline in funding. 

Even in its most difficult weeks, HAVEN continued operating its crisis hotline, relying on volunteers in nearby counties to handle calls after business hours. Now, all of the 90 calls received each month, on average, are being handled once again by trained local volunteers and staff.

Susan King, HAVEN's interim executive director, says the hotline is a centerpiece for the outreach. In addition to handling crisis calls from women needing to escape dangerous situations at the moment, it also refers domestic violence victims to organizations providing legal advice, food and other practical assistance. 

"It's absolutely essential because there has to be a way for someone to reach out whenever the opportunity arises — whether it's at three o'clock in the afternoon or three o'clock in the morning," says King. "People with a violent partner don't have control of their lives; they're not allowed to do certain things. So, a lot of times, they need to be secretive and make that call for help at that one time when they have a chance."

Having local volunteers on the crisis hotline also allows HAVEN to receive more grant funding. As an example, King points to one state grant that helps pay for staff working in the shelter and office. It's an essential part of the organization's financial picture, she says, but HAVEN must have a local hotline to receive the funding. 

HAVEN's hotline is just the latest sign that the nonprofit continues on the road to recovery.

King says HAVEN has been pursuing a plan crafted by banking and financial professionals and is meeting all of its goals on schedule. The organization also continues to receive contributions from the community — a key component to the recovery, since local contributions provide the matching funds required to receive some grants. 

For almost three decades, HAVEN has provided safety and practical assistance for those needing help. In addition to operating the crisis hotline and a safe shelter on Bracken Street, the nonprofit has provided referrals and counseling, assisted abuse survivors in obtaining protective orders in court and accompanied them to hospital appointments.

Though the situation may have looked bleak weeks ago, King is upbeat about the future. 

"Maybe the most encouraging sign is how supportive this community has been," she says. "We've had civic groups like the Sanford Civitan Club making large contributions, and I can't tell you how many people have sent us donations and notes of encouragement. For people facing domestic abuse and sexual violence, HAVEN can literally be the difference between life and death. And its heartwarming to see everyone in our community working together to provide the help they need."

The United Way of Lee County is accepting contributions for HAVEN by credit card or check. Anyone wanting to make a donation can contact the United Way at (919) 776-5823 or 507 N. Steele St., Sanford, NC, 27330. Credit card contributions also can be made through the United Way of Lee County website at leecountyunitedway.org. Online contributors should designate their credit card contribution to HAVEN in Lee County by contacting the United Way office. 

Checks also may be sent directly to HAVEN in Lee County, P.O. Box 3191, Sanford, NC, 27331.

HAVEN receives financial assistance from the United Way of Lee County and contributions from a number of businesses, funding agencies and individuals.