08 Mar Friends of SAFE Shelter – March 2016
Dear Friends of SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services,
I know too much time has passed since my last letter. My only excuse is 2015 was such a stellar year for the shelter that I got overwhelmed every time I thought about how to cover it all in a letter. So, because I am so anxious to share our updates, I’m just taking a deep breath and jumping right in!
Early last year, we decided it was time to rebrand the agency to more truly reflect what we’re about. The first step was legally changing our name from Savannah Area Family Emergency Shelter (SAFE Shelter) to SAFE Shelter Center for Domestic Violence Services. Too often, people mistook us for a hurricane emergency shelter, animal shelter or anything other than what we really are. The redesigned logo mentioned in my last letter helped clarify our new name and positioning within the community.
All this and I haven’t even gotten to the construction of the Youth Enrichment Services (YES) Center. Almost a year ago to the day, ground was broken for the new addition which was being built to provide a recreational and educational facility for the shelter’s older youth (ages 12-18). It was so exciting to be here, every day watching the room take shape before my very eyes. All those months of planning seemed to just melt away as I saw a dream come true. In September, we held a ribbon cutting and open house and at the risk of sounding melodramatic, it was magical for me! Many of you who had helped finance the room were on hand as we opened the doors to the public for the first time.
And what about CHAIRity 2015 in December? What a beautiful event! I don’t even know where to begin to thank everyone for making that such a huge success. With Lorraine Boice heading the CHAIRity Committee, there was no doubt the event would be fantastic. After heading the CHAIRity Committee for many years, Lorraine is turning over the reigns to another chairperson. Fortunately for all of us, she she will still be active, but just not taking the lead. On that note, we are so glad to welcome Carrie Lee who will not only head up the committee but has joined us as a SAFE Shelter board member.
And speaking of new members, we are so proud to announce that along with Carrie, Meg Albertson Pace, Neil H. Cohen and Alexis R. AuBuchon have recently joined our Board of Directors. So as you can see dear friends, Safe Shelter is indeed moving onward and upward! And to keep this momentum going, we’ve hired Laurie Ross as our new Development Director. This dynamic young woman will be reaching out to potential corporate sponsors and donors, among others, to help ensure the shelter’s future.
I can’t talk about 2015 without mentioning that we had a tremendous October which is recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Along with numerous community awareness events and a beautiful candlelight vigil, we had the fountain in Forsyth Park dyed purple for the very first time! Purple is the color associated with domestic violence and I have to say, that was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen!
In closing, I have to get back to the reason we exist. Last year we had 5 domestic violence related deaths in Savannah. And as has been the case for the past 35 years, we never heard from any of the victims. We provided direct services to 803 victims, including 475 children. The shelter was over capacity for 6 months, reaching an all time high of 72 at one point. And because we will never turn any victim away, we housed families and individuals in a nearby hotel.
Sorry this has been such a lengthy letter. I promise not to let so much time pass before the next one. I appreciate each and every one of you. Without you, SAFE Shelter would have to close its doors. No matter what your contribution is to us, whether it’s as a volunteer, through financial support or just spreading the word, we’re here because you care.
As always, all my best,
Cheryl Haven Branch
SAFE Shelter, Center for Domestic Violence Services