North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

Homeless women organization prepares for a new home

By DEE HENRY
Hickory Daily Record
Posted: Nov. 16 12:03 p.m. Updated: Nov. 16 8:05 p.m.
 
HICKORY, N.C. — The mosaic decoration on the kitchen wall, made of broken plates, bowls and cups, carries a strong message. "Even broken things can be made beautiful," said Debbie Haynes, executive director of the Safe Harbor Rescue Mission.
 
The wall was created by former residents of the Ada Geitner Home on Second Street, SE, in Hickory. The Hickory Daily Record reports that the home, built in 1980 to serve as a home for abused and homeless women, will soon be used again for that purpose, as Haynes moves the Safe Harbor Rescue Mission to the house.
 
The mission has been in the former parsonage for St. Paul's Lutheran Church since it opened as a day center in 2004. Haynes was one of the co-founders. "We started the ministry because we had seen women struggling and were amazed at what their situations were and how limited the resources were, especially if they didn't have children," Haynes said.
 
The volunteers and clients at the mission are busy with the move and getting the new home ready. The new residence will officially open in January, with space to accommodate six women. Various businesses have donated furniture for common areas and individuals have "adopted" rooms to decorate, Haynes said. But Haynes needs assistance with purchasing two heating units and getting the basement of the Geitner home renovated and ready to house the mission's day-center program, where women can use computers to conduct job searches, attend Bible classes and socialize somewhere comfortable.  "We need two," Haynes said. "We had one good one, but someone stole the copper wiring from it."
 
The day center will continue its operations, where clients can earn points by helping around the center, attending Bible class, and almost anything else they do around the center. Clients can use those points to purchase clothing from the center's "store" or get bus tickets to home, among other things.
 
Haynes said the new day center also will house a business to be run by the clients, giving them experience in the working world. Currently the mission picks up women at The Salvation Army Shelter and transports them to the day center, run by Anna Wake.
 
Phyllis and Robin, two such clients who wish to go just by their first names, are quick to praise the center and what it has meant to them. "It's been a blessing. The staff is always loving and caring," Phyllis said. "My favorite thing is Bible study and my spiritual growth has improved since I started coming here." Robin, who had been told about the mission by a woman at The Salvation Army, passed that favor down to Phyllis by telling her about it.  "I love it. I've grown a little spiritually,"
 
Robin said, laughing, "but I just love coming here." Robin now has her own apartment, but continues to come to Safe Harbor a few times a week. Phyllis is close to getting her own place, helped in that effort by the mission's life skills classes, where clients learn job and job search skills, and simply how to better get along with others.
 
The mission has to be out of the current house by Nov. 15, but St. Paul's is letting them use a room at the church for the day center until January. With the move, the mission will begin offering services along Haynes' original plan - 24-hour residential with educational offerings to get the clients able to support themselves.
 
"They won't be working for the first six months they're here because these women need to heal. They have battle scars," Haynes said. The center will offer them a "restart," she said, offering help with mental issues and substance abuse, for example. The staff will help the clients with whatever they need - getting into school or getting a job after the initial period. The women can stay at the house for up to a year, allowing them to save money to use as a down payment for their own homes. "We want to help them cope with life and give them resources to start a new life," she said. --- Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.
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Tags: center, women's