A supply drive coordinated by Mississippi State’s Department of Relationship Violence and Outreach and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women benefits Safe Haven Inc. The Columbus shelter for abused women serves 10 counties. Pictured with donations are, from left, Tamara Gibson, PCSW secretary; Debbie Dunaway, PCSW chairwoman; Dorothy Givens-Cunning, Safe Haven’s coordinator of domestic violence/sexual assault services; Beatrice Tatem, director of the department and PCSW vice chairwoman; and Aretina Hankerson-Daniels, administrative assistant for the department. Photo by: Megan Bean/Courtesy photo
September 8, 2012 6:16:53 PM
Safe Haven Inc. in Columbus is the recipient of a generous outpouring of support from the Mississippi State community.
Toiletries, clothes and bedding for ladies who need the shelter of Safe Haven, a refuge for battered women, have poured in from numerous campus organizations, as well as Starkville businesses. Safe Haven serves a 10-county area, including Oktibbeha.
MSU's Department of Relationship Violence and Outreach and the President's Commission on the Status of Women spearheaded the community outreach and promoted it on campus and beyond, according to Beatrice A. Tatem, department director.
LaWanda Swan, former program coordinator for the department, suggested it gather essentials for women in crisis situations, Tatem explained. When department leaders mentioned the idea to PCSW representatives, the concept of "adopting" the women of Safe Haven was born.
Together, PCSW and the Relationship Violence and Outreach Department sponsored the Women for Women on-campus event to gather toiletries and clothes for women who need the services of Safe Haven. The rest was history.
"We've had students, faculty, staff and the community bring things to us," Tatem stated. "Our goal is to provide service to people, particularly people that have experienced sexualized violence, and one of the best things to do is to go where the need is. The items are going to the women who are already a part of Safe Haven."
Dorothy Givens-Cunning, Safe Haven's coordinator of domestic violence/sexual assault services, remarked, "We have clients who enter the shelter with nothing; they have left everything behind. We appreciate it all; these donations will really help tremendously."
Not only did the PCSW and the department advertise the community outreach effort on campus, leaders from more than 20 campus organizations told their members, who then told their friends, Tatem noted.
"Fashion Board came and did a fashion show, 'Jeans for Justice,' and everyone was given a T-shirt. They were walking advertisements," she said.
Even Starkville stores posted signs about donating to Safe Haven; the entire community was working together to support women in need, Tatem explained.
Tatem thanked everyone who gave for making sure women Safe Haven serves have the basic necessities they need to begin healthier, happier lives.
"When people realize the impact that sexual assault has on our community and yet, how they're helping these women to bounce back, it reminds them that, despite some of the circumstances of these women, people do care," she said.
(Editor's note: This story contains information contributed by MSU University Relations.)
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.