Stories that Inspire Hope: Creating Community

We are honored to have a story shared by one of our SafeHaven family staff!  Thank you, Mary Beth for taking the time to share this story that inspires hope and reminds us that the work we are doing makes a lasting impact in the community. 

Autumn 2009 Newsletter
Client finds strength to move on through shelter services
Mary Beth Kopsovich, Arlington Site Director, shared this story:

A few months ago, I went to lunch at a restaurant when a woman named Dee approached me and asked if I remembered her. She had recently stayed at the Arlington shelter with her children.

While in the shelter, Dee struggled whether or not to go back to her husband. He provided a luxury lifestyle that she had become accustomed to and moving from that type of environment to a communal living setting had been very difficult for this family. Dee hadn’t worked in more than five years and was scared of the idea of providing for herself and her children on her own. It had been easy to stay in her abusive relationship, where everything had been handed to her – including the emotional and physical abuse she endured.

Dee told me that she was doing very well. She had not returned to her husband and she had also gotten a job. With assistance from her church she was able to move into an apartment. With help from staff at the shelter, she was able to apply for mainstream benefits for her children and withdraw her children from private school and enroll them into a public school.

She thanked me for all the support and emotional help she received while at the shelter and for the services she and her children had been provided. We talked for a few more minutes, and I asked if she was connected with our non-residential counseling services. She said that she was not because her children were court-ordered to see a particular counselor. When I told her that she could seek services for herself for counseling and/or support groups at either one of our outreach centers, she wanted to thank me again, and gave me a big hug. I left the parking lot smiling, as I knew that we had positively affected Dee and her family.

Fast forward seven years…to Winter 2016
Mary Beth Kopsovich, Director of Crisis & Outreach Services

After clients stay in our emergency shelters, we at SafeHaven don’t always hear from them once they have left and moved on. While we may not know how they are doing, we definitely think of them often and hope that they are well. Of course, we know that the national statistic shows that it takes a woman an average of 7-9 times before is able to successfully escape an abusive relationship. But we never really know how they are doing – unless they receive non-residential service through SafeHaven.  Every so often, we may have our paths cross with a former client at a restaurant, a grocery store, or somewhere else in public.

The Crisis & Outreach Department is a new department at SafeHaven. We are celebrating our first anniversary of services, and in the past year, we have served over 1,000 clients. We are located in Fort Worth at the Tarrant Regional Family Justice Center called One Safe Place. We provide crisis and stabilization services for survivors of domestic violence in the forms of intake services, short-term case management, and long-term case management. We do some pretty amazing things, but of course I’m biased.

This past Christmas, approximately 25 of the families receiving services through the Crisis & Outreach Department were adopted by community members. Two of my team members and myself were working at the Arlington Santa’s Sack location, which is SafeHaven’s annual toy drop-off location. It was also the location where our clients picked up their Adopt-a-Family items for the holidays. As I was carrying a bag of toys to a woman’s car, I noticed a pickup truck with a trailer parked outside of the Santa’s Sack location. As I was headed back inside, a man got out of the truck and asked if anyone was available to help him unload the U-Haul that was filled with toys for Santa’s Sack. “Of course,” I said, and went inside to get more folks to assist in unloading the U-Haul.

As we were unloading the U-Haul, a woman got out of the pickup truck and told me that years ago she had stayed in one of the emergency shelters. When I asked her which shelter and when she had stayed there – she said the Arlington Shelter in 2009. I told her that I was the Director of the shelter at that time. She looked at my face, and I looked at hers. It was Dee!! I said, “Dee, I’m Mary Beth!” I told her that I remember her and her children. I told her that the last time I had seen her was in the parking lot of a restaurant.  And after that, we chatted for a few minutes as we unloaded the toys from the U-Haul. Dee is doing a million times better. She is a business owner. Her children are doing very well. Dee is a grandmother to two beautiful grandchildren. And she also happens to be remarried to a wonderful man.

Dee asked me what I was doing at SafeHaven, and I explained that I was the Director of Crisis & Outreach Services. She thanked me for what I did for her family. I thanked her for what she had done for the families at SafeHaven (donated toys). She gave me a big hug, told me that she was happy that she could give back and help a family like hers, and with a big smile, she and her husband left with an empty U-Haul and full hearts. That night, I left the Santa’s Sack parking lot smiling, as I knew that we had positively affected Dee and her family.

If is easy to get swept up in the idea that SafeHaven is just a way station on a person’s journey to heal from an abusive relationship, but SafeHaven is so much more than that.  The deep-rooted impact of a caring friend, a listening counselor, and the safety of emergency shelter lasts more than a season. For many, that hope lasts a lifetime.