Safe Haven Ministries Expands Role in Battling Domestic Abuse

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Executive Director Megan HopkinsExecutive director Megan Hopkins displays a rendering of Safe Haven Ministries’ future facility. Safe Haven Ministries (SHM) has provided a refuge for women and children who've fallen prey to domestic abuse for nearly 30 years.

Building on its wide-ranging approach to solving emotional, spiritual, physical and financial abuse and sexual assault are new initiatives intended to amplify its capacity to provide hope and healing to those maltreated.

New executive director

Megan Hopkins was tapped as SHM's new executive director, a role she's held as interim executive director since May.

Hopkins first became involved with SHM two years ago as a volunteer, supporting its capital campaign for a larger building that will offer its services under one roof. She also provided professional development and leadership training to Safe Haven staff.

"Megan brings both the commitment and skill set to lead with excellence, integrity and a tenacity to bring an end to domestic abuse," said SHM board president Angela Burke. "The board could not be more grateful for her willingness to continue serving in a permanent role with Safe Haven."

Hopkins' organizational structure experience, strategic communication acumen and insight in forming a new campaign cabinet and fundraising strategy has juiced SHM's capital campaign.

"When I came into this position in May we were at about $2.4 million (raised) so in a matter of months we went from $2.4 million to $4.1 million," said Hopkins.

"Communication is all about relationships. Everything we do comes back to connecting with people. Our efforts with the capital campaign have been communicating with donors based on relationship."

Originally from Northern Maine, Hopkins has lived in Grand Rapids with her husband for eight years. This area's philanthropic heart beats loudly, she said.

"One of the things that most impressed me is the way the community comes together to support the needs of others," said Hopkins.

New facility

SHM plans to begin construction of a 20,000-square foot facility for $4.8 million on a site at 2130 Saginaw Rd SE in Grand Rapids. The new building will double SHM's capacity to serve women and children to about 60 instead of the current average of 30. Its new location will also provide better wrap-around care for its clients and more educational training opportunities for the community.

Construction is slated to begin next spring and projected to be completed in late 2018 or early 2019. Once constructed, it will house its administrative offices and shelter under one roof. Currently its administrative offices are at 3501 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. and its shelter at an undisclosed site.

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Having the shelter's location known to the public will prove to be a plus, according to Hopkins.

"There has been research that demonstrates it can be safe, if not safer, where people know where it is," she said. "Typically assailants do not want to associate with our type of agency. We'll be able serve as twice as many women and children: about 60 at one time, which is huge for us. We have to turn people away right now."

New program for churches

Third, SHM now offers to churches its Domestic Violence Church Certification Program.

SHM's Domestic Violence Certification Program hones its ability to help faith communities develop strategies to effectively respond to domestic abuse victims. Such certification ensures church leadership and lay people are empowered with effective tools to work with an individual or family grappling with such a crisis.

SHM clients, in turn, can find spiritual and emotional support from these certified churches.

SHM's roots

Six local churches founded SHM in 1990, initially providing safety for 11 women and three children.

Since then, SHM has grown to become a comprehensive domestic violence agency in Grand Rapids, providing emergency shelter, nonresidential support services and prevention and education.

Specifically, it provides emergency children to women and children whose average stay is 32 days; offers non-residential support services including, but not limited to, case management and support groups; and trains businesses, churches, hospitals and schools. In 2016, SHM reached more than 6,000 people and trained 1,500 teens in 11 school districts.

"It is an honor to have the opportunity to serve our community in this role with an agency that has been doing impactful work for 27 years," Hopkins said. "I look forward to not only ultimately preventing cases of domestic abuse, but also to help foster healthier and stronger communities."

Safe Haven Ministries' values
• We respect the God-given dignity of all people.
• We affirm our Christian foundation and identity, while respecting the beliefs of others.
• We believe every person has the right to live free from fear of domestic abuse.
• We believe domestic abuse can be prevented and its cycle broken.
• We work to secure qualified and knowledgeable staff and board members committed to excellence and community impact.
• We value empowerment through advocacy and support.
• We practice and promise wise stewardship of finances, time, and talents.
• We value the trust and partnership of all our community partners.
• We commit to effective collaboration both with the faith community and the community at large.

CONNECT
http://safehavenministries.org/
24/7 hotline: (616) 452-6664
Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
About:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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