Haven House celebrates 25th anniversary

By Jason A. Smith
Times Correspondent

Haven House Executive Director Marjorie Lacy says she appreciates the opportunity to meet the needs of families affected by domestic violence over the years. In particular, she says it has been gratifying to bring smiles to the faces of children at the facility.

“When the kids come in, they’re usually timid and afraid,” says Lacy. “But after they’ve been here a little bit, they begin to feel safe and happy, like children again.”

Haven House will celebrate its 25th anniversary Oct. 4 at 5 p.m., at Eagle’s Brooke Country Club in Locust Grove. The keynote speaker for the occasion will be WSB radio host and former presidential candidate, Herman Cain. WSB-TV’s Mark Winne is the scheduled master of ceremonies for the event, which will also include dinner, a silent auction and an appearance by domestic-violence survivor, Charmaine Helton.

The Henry County Board of Commissioners presented a proclamation to Haven House Sept. 15, in recognition of the shelter’s service to victims and families over the last 25 years. Haven House is a domestic violence shelter for victims and families in Henry, Jasper, Butts and Lamar Counties.

Lacy accepted the BOC’s proclamation along with Haven House Board President Pandora Palmer. Lacy says the last quarter-century has brought a lot of changes for the Haven House, and the services she is able to provide.

“Twenty-five years ago, it was not a shelter,” says Lacy. “It was just a program. It was mostly escorting people through the court system. In 1999, the original Haven House shelter opened. Then four years ago, we opened a bigger shelter with SPLOST funds.”

Today, services available at Haven House include legal advocacy, transportation, counseling, support groups, parenting classes, case management and referral, a federal Rapid Re-Housing program, a food pantry, children’s programs and limited financial assistance. Lacy acknowledges that the demand for services provided by Haven House has increased with the explosive growth the county has experienced over the last 25 years,

“Originally, we housed 12 people,” she says. “Now, if we have every single bed in the shelter taken, we can house 48 people. We have literally had thousands. We typically have 600 women and children a year on average, and over 1,000 a year for outreach. I’m sure we’re bigger than most people think.”

Haven House also oversees the Blessings Thrift Store which, according to Lacy, has helped her to meet the needs of domestic-violence victims over the years.

“When our families are ready to move out, if we have items available for them to furnish their home, we give them those,” she says. “We also give them clothing and shoes. A lot of times, they come in with nothing.”

Lacy says the community’s continued support has been an essential component in enabling Haven House to help victims and families.

“We have been blessed with help from the commission and the community and we appreciate it,” she says.

Tickets for the Oct. 4 anniversary celebration are $20 each. They are available by mailing a check to Haven House, P.O. Box 1150, McDonough, GA 30253.

For more information, visit www.henryhavenhouse.org.