“When I worked at Haven House, we would put soup cans at the backdoor so they knew if someone was trying to get in,” former Clinical Supervisor Ann McInerney said. “That was their security.”
Things at Haven House have certainly progressed over the years. Thanks to the generosity of the shelter’s supporters, it now has many security cameras to keep the residents safe. The available programs and services have expanded to better help the clients – whether it be something practical such as court advocates to help survivors through the legal processor the Art Empowerment Program that helps clients reflect on their emotions without saying a word.
Even with these changes at Haven House over the years, the mission to aid the survivors of domestic abuse remains the same. The time these survivors spend in shelter can have a crucial impact on their lives.
Ann recalled that she devoted two weeks to the issue of domestic violence while teaching her sociology course at Erie Community College.In one of these classes, a woman in the back of the room noticed that a few students were not paying attention. The woman raised her hand, stood up and told the class, “You need to listen to what your professor is telling you right now. This is the most important thing you will learn in school. She saved my life with this information.”
That same woman had stayed at Haven House with her two sons twenty years earlier. “With her permission, we talked about her experience in the class,” Ann said. “I was taken aback. I didn’t remember her name, but I remembered her being at Haven House. She was doing much better now. It was incredible to hear how much Haven House meant to her and how much value she placed in her time there.”
As Ann considers Haven House’s 40th anniversary, she sees it as bittersweet. “It’s wonderful that it’s been 40 years, but unfortunately the nature of domestic violence has not changed,” Ann said. “There is still so much more to be done.”