Minding My Manners


Guest post by:
Rachel M. DeckerExecutive Director, HAVEN Foundation and Director of Development, HAVEN

It wasn’t very long ago that I was handing out Halloween candy and while doing so,  I heard countless parents prompting their kids with “What do you say?” and “Be sure to say thank you.” Some of them had barely mastered the ability to walk but moms and dads were already working on the skill of showing gratitude.

It was, of course, adorable. But it also made me think. Thanks to my own parents who valued manners as well as my career spent in philanthropy, not a day goes by that I don’t use the phrase. And as we approach the time of year that calls for the giving of thanks. I wondered, is “thank you” really enough?

Last year almost 4,000 individuals, companies and foundations supported HAVEN. Four thousand kind, caring and compassionate donors who believed so strongly in our mission to treat and prevent domestic violence and sexual assault that they were moved to help. They wrote checks, they held donation drives, they attended events, they donated goods and services. And all of it contributed to so much more.

They changed lives. They saved lives.

A 5-year-old saying thank you when I hand her a candy bar is an appropriate response for her to express her appreciation. But when I’m speaking to donors, surely there must be a better way for me to convey my gratitude for the significant, life altering and possibly life-saving impact they are making. Is there a better way to tell those donors what their support means not just to HAVEN, but to the nearly 30,000 individuals we help?

Truth be told….I’ve been reflecting on it since Halloween and have yet to come up with anything. But what I can do, is share an experience about what your support meant to a domestic violence survivor named Ashley that we worked with recently.

“I never thought I’d need HAVEN services for myself. Even on the day of my first phone call, I didn’t realize how invaluable my relationship would become. With extreme patience, kindness, and understanding of exactly what I was experiencing, I spent over a year with HAVEN accessing safety and ultimately repairing myself. The HAVEN team was a literal lifesaver.”

So please know that this heartfelt “Thank you!” goes beyond good manners. Thank you for ensuring that our services are available to Ashley and others that need us. Thank you for helping us work to treat and prevent domestic and sexual violence. Thank you for your kindness and your compassion. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you for helping instill a sense of hope. Thank you for supporting a world free of violence.

Most importantly…thank you for saving lives.




1 Comment

Filed under HAVEN news

Together We Restore Lives


Guest blog by: Karen Wullaert DeKett, MA, LLPC, HAVEN Therapist

I am proud of the work that my colleagues and I do at HAVEN. I’ve seen firsthand how our interactions with survivors can be life-changing. I’ve heard countless times from clients that before talking to someone at HAVEN, they felt completely alone and hopeless.

The work HAVEN does to help survivors of domestic and sexual violence is important, but sometimes it feels like we are limited in what we can do. The needs of our clients often exceed the resources and options we can offer them as a single agency. In moments like these, I am grateful for the relationships we have with other community agencies. HAVEN is fortunate to have many community partners who recognize that domestic and sexual violence can create immense upheaval and chaos in an individual’s life. These partners are there for our clients when their needs are beyond the scope of our services.

One client that comes to mind is Janice. Janice was a 30-something mother of four who had recently broken up with an abusive partner. As is often the case, the abuse didn’t stop when the relationship ended. Janice’s ex-partner would frequently drive by her house, follow her when she and her children left, and park in various areas of her neighborhood. She would come home and her mailbox would be open or a garbage can would be knocked over. Although to an outsider these were seemingly small occurrences, to her they sent a powerful message; you are not safe.

It was clear that Janice needed to find new, safe housing. Janice was a fulltime student who had recently picked up a part-time job. She would not only need assistance finding safe, affordable housing; she would also need some financial assistance so she could afford new housing until she could get back on her feet. I referred Janice to Community Housing Network.

Community Housing Network listened to Janice and took her concerns and the needs of her and her family seriously. They helped her find a new home where they could feel safe and live without fear. They also helped her pay for her rent and utilities until she could afford it on her own.

HAVEN’s community partners are there for survivors when they need help filling in the gaps. From housing resources to legal assistance, from employment aid to food and clothing donations, our community partners support our clients on their journeys to independence and empowerment. I look forward to future without domestic and sexual violence. Until that day comes to fruition, I am grateful for all of the community agencies in Oakland County who support HAVEN’s mission and the survivors we serve. Thank you.

If you or someone you know needs help, we are available 24-hours per day, 7-days per week. Please call our free Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274 or visit http://www.haven-oakland.org for more information.  

Leave a comment

Filed under HAVEN news

HAVEN Touched My Heart

Meg Gordy being interviewed by WXYZ at a HAVEN fundraiser she co-chaired.

Meg being interviewed by WXYZ, channel 7, at a HAVEN fundraiser she co-chaired.

Guest post by: Meg Gordy, HAVEN Board of Directors, Secretary

After spending 15 years in corporate banking, I chose to stay home with my newborn son. I am blessed to have been able to make this decision. Not only had I earned a good living, I had a loving and supportive husband who helped make this possible. Not everyone has that.

But what was I to do with the unexpected and unpredictable openings in my day? A friend introduced me to HAVEN. Suddenly, I found myself helping with the annual fundraiser and dragging my toddler to meetings where he played in the playroom at HAVEN’s offices. Why HAVEN? Well, of course, having a friend introduce me got the ball rolling. Eight years later I still support HAVEN. The statistics tell you that one in three women will experience domestic violence. It almost seems unreal. You think “not in my family, not in my circle of friends, not in my community.” But you’re wrong. And the very existence of domestic and sexual violence is wrong. And it’s happened and continues to happen to people you know.

Giving, whether it’s your money or your time, is a very personal thing. People connect with what touches their heart. I could just as easily write about supporting my church, cancer research, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, animal cruelty or the numerous worthy causes that deeply touch my heart. But what touched my heart and keeps me supporting HAVEN was something my son said years ago. We had left a meeting at HAVEN and he asked me what exactly do they do. He was four years old. In the simplest terms I could find I explained that sometimes dads hit and hurt moms and HAVEN helps the moms and their kids. He looked at me in utter bewilderment and said, “Why would anyone ever hit someone they love?”

We should all be bewildered by the very idea of domestic and sexual violence. Sometimes it just takes a four year old to put it into perspective.

For information on how you can play an active role in ending domestic and sexual violence, visit www.haven-oakland.org

Leave a comment

Filed under HAVEN news

Detroit Lions Partner with HAVEN to Redefine Manliness and end Domestic and Sexual Violence

Representatives from SASHA Center, HAVEN, and Novi High School

Representatives from SASHA Center, HAVEN, and Novi High School

Guest post by: Kole Wyckhuys, Prevention Education Program Director, HAVEN

Domestic and sexual violence have long been deeply engrained within a culture of silence and shame. It’s time we strategically utilize the power of sports culture to shift the paradigm and prevent violence before it occurs. Sport is skillfully packaged, branded, commodified, and undeniably has an elevated role in American culture. This elevated and powerful platform affords them the influence to leverage social change and embolden communities to take a strong stance against violence.

The Detroit Lions have teamed with HAVEN’s Prevention Educators to do just that.

The Lions revealed the expansion of their relationship with HAVEN and granted $250,000 dollars, over 3 years, to fund a HAVEN-designed leadership development program for young men in Oakland and Wayne Counties.

At HAVEN, we value partnering with organizations that are rooted within communities and strive to build collaborative efforts. As a result we have partnered and subcontracted $69,000 in funding with the SASHA Center, (a Detroit-based agency providing culturally specific peer support groups to survivors of sexual assault in the black community), to bring this leadership development programming into Detroit and surrounding Wayne County.

HAVEN’s program is named; Redefine, and is a multi-session leadership development program where groups of high school young men meet once a week, for eight weeks, to increase awareness surrounding issues related to unhealthy masculinity and gender-based violence. Our young American men are inundated with messages about manhood that supports the enactment of an extreme and toxic masculinity. We believe that mentoring a healthier vision of manliness can be helpful in creating a society that is built on gender equity and social justice.

HAVEN’s interactive program is meant to involve young men in awareness raising, leadership development, and provides them with skills and tools to confront domestic and sexual violence; as well as, to foster healthier and happier emotional lives.

It’s our goal to train young men to respond appropriately, mentor peers, and develop peer leadership strategies to effectively alter school and cultural environments to not accept, condone, or tolerate violence or bullying. The anti-violence movement has created the opportunity for men to step outside of rigid gender expectations and celebrate a full range of human emotions, behaviors, and complexities. It’s our collective task to educate young men to redefine manliness in such a way that is rooted in the celebration of gender equity and accountability. Students who participate in the entire program will have the opportunity to meet current and alumni players, win tickets to games, and other exciting incentives provided by the Detroit Lions.

Visit HAVEN’s website for more information about our leadership development opportunity or to schedule a meeting with a local high school. 

HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and educational programming to nearly 30,000 people each year and greatly relies on the generosity of the community. Please click here to volunteer your time or click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

Leave a comment

Filed under HAVEN news

Truth. Respect. Communication.

Print ad, created by the team at Campbell Ewald, for the "Nice Guy" campaign.

Print ad, created by the team at Campbell Ewald, for the “Nice Guy” campaign.

Guest blog by: Jim Feltz, Senior Copywriter, Campbell Ewald

There are a lot of ingredients that go into a healthy long-term relationship. Trust. Respect. And certainly among the most important is good communication.

Over the last 15 years, HAVEN and Campbell Ewald have been working together to raise awareness and reach victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Oakland County. It’s an enormous issue that affects one in three homes. And with each and every piece of communication that we develop as a team, another message of hope and healing is spread throughout the area.

From creating invitations and materials for fundraising events to developing full PSA campaigns, our relationship has really made a positive impact on the community. And while all of the advertising HAVEN and Campbell Ewald have collaborated on over the years has put the mission of awareness and support first, the “Nice Guy” campaign does so by staring abusers right in the eye.

Together, our team developed a strategy to show who abusers really are and what their internal justifications sound like. We knew that, as hard as it may be to see and hear, when people were presented with the real words between the lines, they might be encouraged to offer a little help — or perhaps seek it for themselves.

That simple, truthful insight led to the creation of a fully integrated campaign — print ads, online banners, posters, billboards and more. Each piece of communication sends a powerful message, encouraging victims to seek help and safety from violence.

As HAVEN and Campbell Ewald worked to create this awareness campaign, we had the opportunity to build more relationships with generous and talented people who donated their time and efforts to this cause. One relationship in particular was with the director of our television spot — two-time Academy Award winner, Angus Wall.

This television commercial was an intense piece of communication. It’s a startling face-to-face with an abuser — we see who he is, how he uses manipulation as a threat and how dangerous a villain like this can be. We identify him directly. It’s a perfectly clear communication, not only to victims, but abusers as well.

The campaign was a huge success, resulting in a huge spike in donations to the Capital Campaign — a fundraising effort for the new HAVEN facility. It’s also earned several awards and a lot of national buzz — including AdWeek’s “Ad of the Day.”

While awards and recognition are a great pat on the back for what HAVEN and Campbell Ewald did together, the more important part about it to us is that the message was communicated to a much larger audience. Because when more people are aware, the stronger and more effective we can be as we work to eradicate domestic violence and sexual assault. We helped spread that message together.

And all that is made possible through having a healthy relationship — a long-term relationship that gets stronger every day that we work together. One that really embraces the true power of communication.

Leave a comment

Filed under HAVEN news

A Dose of Hope


Courage is the choice and willingness to face agony, pain, danger, uncertainty and intimidation – according to Wikipedia. At HAVEN we see courage each and every day and in the faces of every person we assist, whether adult or children. Those individuals who must face the fear, pain, hurt and trauma of victimization know first-hand what courage is all about, even though most would never recognize the courageous steps and acts they are taking.

Imagine the courage of speaking out against your abuser. The courage to face your rapist in court. The courage of moving you and your children into a shelter. The courage of telling your employer why you are late to work. The courage needed when your actions are being questioned or behaviors are being blamed by your family and friends. The courage to have a rape kit examination and tell how your body was violated to law enforcement, prosecutors, juries.

Each fall, HAVEN partners with the Detroit Lions Courage House Board of Directors, and holds an annual fundraising dinner. This partnership, now in its 23rd year, highlights in particular the courage of HAVEN’s youngest clients – the children who reside at our shelter. Children, who at no fault of their own, move into shelter to escape the violence being perpetrated by an adult against their mom and sometimes even themselves. Children, who often very silently, exhibit incredible courage.

The funds raised at the dinner, help support the programming provided to our young residents. Programming to help the children express their emotions, to share their feelings of fear and isolation. We work with the children to identify their strengths, to help them create a safety plan, to work with them on reestablishing a positive parent/child relationship with the non-abusive parent. And as important as everything else – we give the children a space to be a child, whether they are 2 years old or 15 years old, we want them to be themselves. We want them to laugh, run, giggle, play, think, explore, and learn. Children surrounded by domestic and sexual violence, learn to walk on egg shells. At HAVEN, we want that tension to reduce and let children return to the typical activities of kids.

Recently a group of Detroit Lions players and their wives came to HAVEN to play with the kids. Activities included, a wild game of dodge ball, jumping rope, and shooting baskets, to name just a few, all had the children smiling and laughing. For 90 minutes, they could forget they were in a shelter or in therapy, and just have FUN. And the smiles on their parents’ faces, as well as the Detroit Lions’, were just as big. It was actually hard to see who was having the most fun!

So on October 20th, nearly 500 community members including the Detroit Lions Family – players, wives, coaches, and front office, staff – will gather at Ford Field. We will recognize several community leaders and a current Lions player. But what we will really be doing is giving a large dose of hope to those we serve. A dose of hope that makes courage possible and egg shells evaporate.

If you would like to join us in our efforts, you can attend the Detroit Lions Courage House dinner, featuring ESPN’s Adam Schefter at Ford Field on October 20. Click here for more information. If you cannot attend the dinner, there are still many other ways you can bring hope to our children – you can donate your time OR resources. To learn more about HAVEN and our work, visit our website here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Call to action, HAVEN news

Folders and Backpacks and Homework…Oh My!


By now the supply lists have been checked off and the teacher meetings and school orientations have been attended. Most likely your children (and you) have also had a flood of different emotions as the school year approached and began. Disappointment that summer has come to a close. Excitement looking forward to the new year. Or maybe a bit of anxiety or nervousness about new routines, teachers, classes or friends.

Throughout our 40 years in operation, we’ve noted that children who live in households where violence exists also have a flood of emotions related to school. Some children are happy to use school as an escape, a place to feel safe from their chaotic and fearful home. Like Wendy, a childhood survivor of domestic violence, who stayed at our shelter 31 years ago when her mother packed up her and her brothers to flee their abusive stepfather. Wendy shared with us: “As a child, I loved school because it was a place to get away. I didn’t have to deal with the arguing and seeing my mom get hurt.”

Still other children may resist attending school because they experience separation anxiety – feeling the need to stay home to “save” the abused parent from the abuser. No matter what the circumstance, at HAVEN we work hard to meet the children we serve where they are emotionally to help facilitate healing.

In addition to ensuring the children staying in our shelter are attending school, we provide counseling, and the option to attend a variety of supportive groups in a therapeutic environment to them. We also offer respite activities such as going to a ball game, a playground, etc. and many options to play. For some of the children, it’s the first opportunity they have to have truly be a kid.

One of our main goals is to help the children to feel safe, secure and loved no matter what activity they are engaged in. If you’re a parent, like me, I’m sure you share the same goal. So as you settle in to the monotony of packing lunches and helping with homework over the next few weeks and months, remember that those comforting words and gestures you used to soothe their nerves on the first day will still be just as impactful and important on the 50th day, as well as the 150th day.

Wishing you and your children an enjoyable and successful school year.

Leave a comment

Filed under HAVEN news