Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Abuse shelter effort finds a home to rent

 


Following four years of fundraising, a local domestic violence response group has signed a one-year lease for the establishment of a safe house in Haines.

  The house’s location will remain undisclosed to serve as a secure location for female victims of domestic violence and their children, said Jackie Mazeikas, president of the nonprofit Becky’s Place Haven of Hope.

  Mazeikas also is a domestic violence and sexual assault health educator for the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. She formed Becky’s Place to rally support and funds for a safe house in Haines, naming the organization after her sister, who died at the hands of an abuser more than two decades ago.

  Mazeikas has applied for grants, held bake sales, hosted spaghetti dinners, organized silent auctions and arranged rummage sales to slowly raise money for the safe house. She has trolled garage sales and consignment shops, collecting dishes, bedding and other items to furnish the home.

  She signed the lease July 1.

  “I had wanted a bigger place, but it’s a wonderful beginning,” Mazeikas said of the two-bedroom, two-bathroom home. “It’s a place for women and children to feel safe and secure, where they can find help, hope and be given choices. We will be able to connect them with counseling services, the health clinic. Whatever their needs may be, we will try to assist them.”

  One bedroom has a full-size bed, a crib, and a bunk bed, so if a mother with several children needs to escape a bad situation, the family can stay in one room together, Mazeikas said.

  The goal is to eventually buy a four or five-bedroom house, she said.

  Security cameras will keep an eye on the house, and Haines Borough Police Department officers will be notified when someone is staying there so they can perform extra patrols, she said. Mazeikas will also stay there when the shelter has a resident.

  Lynn Canal Counseling Services executive director Kelly Williamson said prior to establishment of the safe house, LCCS employees would typically refer people to the AWARE shelter in Juneau. “That’s the best we could do,” she said.

  “(The safe house) is an invaluable resource that we’ve desperately needed for a very long time,” Williamson added.

Maintaining the secret of the house’s location could be tricky in a small town, though, Williamson acknowledged. “I believe the entities involved have a lot of integrity and they understand that the confidentiality piece is really important. But the chance of being found out is out there, because it’s a much smaller place.”

Interim police chief Robert Griffiths, who moved here in May, said he wasn’t surprised Haines lacked a safe house, as smaller communities usually don’t have one.

“Communities without such facilities often have to scramble to locate sanctuary in the middle of the night or on weekends and then have to rely on local charities/houses of worship, or relatives for support. It can tie up officers for hours attempting to make arrangements, and even then the folks providing the sanctuary most often do not have the knowledge and skills to provide the victims the emotional support needed,” Griffiths said.

  Mazeikas said she assisted 22 people in 2014 and 14 so far this year with finding emergency shelter, obtaining medical help, transporting them out of town and other services.

  The safe house is only a temporary place to stay, but gives women the chance to clear their heads, take back their ability to choose, and embark on the path to healing, Mazeikas said. “We want them to know they aren’t alone.”

  Donate to Becky’s Place at www.beckysplacehavenofhope.org or at P.O. Box 1506. Contact Mazeikas at 303-0076.

 
 

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