Time for reflection and Thanksgiving at HAVEN, Inc.
Families across Lincoln County will gather to celebrate Thanksgiving and share a meal together. At HAVEN, families affected by domestic violence face heart wrenching challenges, but will still take Thursday as an opportunity to reflect and be thankful for the support they have received and for the possibilities of new beginnings.
“Thanksgiving at a domestic abuse shelter is frankly a day of mixed emotions,” said Judy Woller, Executive Director. “The victims and children we serve would certainly rather be safely living and celebrating the holiday in their own homes. But, they are also appreciative of the assistance and support they have received here and for opportunity to share a special meal with fellow survivors.”
HAVEN offers shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and other assistance to families who are survivors of domestic violence. The agency also works to provide counseling specifically to children who have been exposed to domestic violence.
The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV), which is the statewide voice for victims of domestic violence, estimates that approximately 500 children in Wisconsin will celebrate Thanksgiving at a domestic violence shelter. In all cases, the children are accompanying their parent who is a victim of domestic violence.
Woller hopes this Thanksgiving will be a positive one for the clients of HAVEN. “Our clients have been through so much,” said Woller. “We want Thanksgiving to be a peaceful day. The meal we will share at the shelter is a way to take stock of how far our clients have come and mark hope for better tomorrows.”
There have been recent local and statewide efforts to ensure domestic violence shelters can offer meals this holiday and year-round. For example, WCADV recently partnered with DECA, a student organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management, to collect over 1,700 food items that have been distributed to shelters around the state.
“Domestic violence has been at the forefront of our state’s attention this month,” said Patti Seger, executive director of WCADV. “As we gather with our families Thursday, there is much to remember. We should be thankful for the survivors of domestic violence who have had the courage and strength to create better lives for themselves and their children, thereby ultimately creating stronger communities in our state. We should also be thankful for the over 70 domestic abuse victim service providers that work every day to protect victims and make Wisconsin a safer place.”
Locally, Park City Credit Union and individuals have provided 14 meals for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Although the donors will not ever know who they have helped, they continue to support the victims as they work towards a violence free life. The victims and their children are very appreciative of the donation of meals for the holiday.
HAVEN knows its life-changing and life-saving work is only possible with the help of the community. Anyone who would like to make a donation or volunteer should contact Karen, the Volunteer Coordinator, at 715/536-9563. “A number of our supporters donate or give time around the holidays,” said Woller. “We are so thankful for their generosity; it transforms the lives of victims and their children.”
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