For close to 30 years, Parksville’s Society of Organized Services has offered women fleeing violence at home a temporary haven — a place to stay immediately after an incident of domestic abuse.
The SOS, in conjunction with the B.C. housing ministry, has run the Haven Homes program since 1981 and a dedicated group of workers and volunteers ensures women and their dependent children have a safe place to go.
“We have a 24-hour crisis line for women facing domestic abuse,” said program co-ordinator Julie Patterson. “We have people on the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Program use ebbs and flows, she explained, noting that it can peak at the more stressful times of year (December) and when the economy takes a turn for the worse.
What the Haven Homes program offers, Patterson said, is up to five days of shelter in their network of homes. She said there is no transition facility in District 69, but they do have links with those in Nanaimo and Port Alberni if someone needs to get away from the abuse.
“We offer a short-term crisis shelter and can provide food, clothing and more for up to five days.”
Additionally, the program gets women in touch with social services and other resources to help them take the next steps.
The first step, Patterson agreed, is to get out of harm’s way by calling 9-1-1. Then, women can call the Haven Homes program at 250-248-2093 and press ‘1’.
This service is run mostly by volunteers and relies on public donations. Recently, Clinton Miller and his company — Royal LePage — donated more than $5,000 to the program.
“Thanks to Clinton Miller and his gang, that really helps,” said Patterson.
The donation will be put into the program’s budget. Patterson added they are open to most any kind of donation — but notes that since they have access to the SOS’s thrift shop, they do not need clothing donations.
“This way, we can send women over to the thrift shop with a voucher and they can pick their own clothing. It offers some dignity and choice.”
Patterson said the program is doing well, and will always accept donations to help make them stronger.
The bottom line, she said, is to stop violence against women.