Today, Safe Harbor celebrates the 1st anniversary of the opening of our Oconee Shelter. On March 1, 2013, we launched a capital campaign to raise $990,000 to open a 24-hour emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children in Oconee County. The Oconee community stepped up with tremendous support, and over $1,300,000 was raised. Safe Harbor purchased the building for the shelter in December of 2014, and during the first six months of 2014, staff and volunteers completed renovations and necessary preparations for the opening in August of 2014.
On August 14, 2014, Safe Harbor’s 16-bed Oconee Shelter opened its doors for the first time, and within 48 hours, the shelter was full. The shelter consistently operates at or near capacity, highlighting the great need for domestic violence services and prevention programs in Oconee County. “I am so proud of the work we have been able to accomplish so far in Oconee County since the opening of our shelter. Thanks to the support of the Oconee community more than 150 women and children found safe shelter when it was so desperately needed,” said Becky Callaham, Safe Harbor’s Executive Director. “Through our support services and education initiatives, we are working to influence real, positive change in Oconee County.”
Over the past year, the shelter has housed 159 women and children in crisis situations. Community counselors and advocates have provided more than 400 hours of counseling and advocacy for victims, including services like individual and group counseling, safety planning, and transitional housing assistance. And Safe Harbor’s Relationship Education Project (REP) has brought healthy relationship curriculum to more than 1,000 middle and high school students in Oconee County.
“In a lot of ways, I think that my job is the best one possible at Safe Harbor,” shared Ester Griffin-Devita, an Oconee Community Counselor, “I get to walk the road with our clients from victim to survivor, and be present not just during the times of struggle and heartache, but also during the times of peace and happiness. This year has been a good one and filled with many changed lives…lives that could have easily ended, were it not for Safe Harbor.”