A lot has happened at One SAFE Place this past month. Since Jean King, our Executive Director for over 5 years, transitioned into her role as Director Emeritus, my new position as Interim Executive Director has been an exciting challenge. I have been a part of One SAFE Place for 14 years now, initially as Shelter Manager, then taking on more responsibility through the years until reaching the position of Associate/Deputy Director in 2012. I have grown with the organization – from our merge with the Shasta Family Justice Center, to the building of the Sierra Center, expansion of the Children’s Program, and establishment of the Transitional Housing Program.
On October 5th, we celebrated our one year anniversary of the opening of the Sierra Center. Together with our partners, volunteers and generous donors we are making our community a better, safer place.
As we enter this holiday season–decorations, music, the smell of delicious foods, the drives to give to those in need — these things stir memories of the past. Several years ago I met a young woman and her two children (ages 3 and 6). The three were terribly abused and they came to stay in the old shelter to escape their tormentor. This was a huge step for her because her mother told her the abuse was her fault for not doing what her husband asked and not keeping the children quiet when she should. By leaving, she lost the only family she had.
They were with us during the holiday season. Through the generosity of the community we were able to provide all of our families with gifts under the tree, things off of a wish list we collected. She was reluctant to put anything down. All she asked for were necessities: clothing, household items and books for her children. We had no idea what that act of kindness would mean to this particular family.
Since marrying and having children, neither she nor her children had ever had a gift under the tree. When they opened their presents, there were toys and non-essentials to enjoy. She sobbed as she watched her children beam with delight. She couldn’t believe that people in the community would give to her and her children. She thought people would look down on her, and the realization that the community didn’t blame or judge her, helped to give her the strength and hope she needed to follow through with leaving her abuser and making a new life for her family.
Through the services provided by OSP and many of our partners, including the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office, the family received therapy, obtained protection orders, and their abuser was arrested and eventually sent to prison.
Today, years later, this mother still stays in touch to thank us for supporting her through the difficult process of seeking help. They have a great life. She has a degree and her children are healthy and happy. Each year she recounts the moments, big and small, that helped her the most and among them is that holiday when she realized that she wasn’t alone. She had a community!
This is one of many meaningful stories that serve to remind us that we can make a difference. We are stronger together, and together we do change lives!
I’m honored to take on this new role and continue to be a part of serving survivors of family violence and sexual abuse.
Interim Executive Director