Some people think I am crazy, but I have loved every birthday that I have had. It most likely comes from being the youngest child in a large family!
So I am fully embracing HAVEN’s 40th Birthday in 2015! A birthday for an organization, much like a birthday of an individual, is often a time to reflect back on accomplishments, as well as look forward to the future. And like an individual, HAVEN has had interesting growing pains and rites of passage.
If we look back at those early years of childhood, HAVEN worked to establish itself in the community. Many nonprofits fail in the early years as they struggle for relevance, funding, and community support. Thanks to the hard work of our founders, HAVEN was able to demonstrate to the community that the occurrence of sexual violence in our community required attention. Adding domestic violence to the original mission furthered the conversation in Oakland County and our quick growth in the number of survivors served demonstrated a significant need.
In our teen years, some might have said that we became a bit rebellious by challenging the norm. HAVEN was a key player in addressing issues such as the marital rape exception law, advocating for Personal Protection Order laws and specialized training for law enforcement officers. And of course, what would teen years be without a big party…so we launched our Gala event (formerly known as Promenade of Hope) and our annual Gift Giveaway Program.
In our 20’s, we began to hit our groove. By this time we had become an established organization but recognized that we needed to achieve stronger financial viability and lobbying for the federal Violence Against Women Act became critical. Throughout the 90’s, our Prevention Education programming took off with greater reach into middle schools, high schools, Oakland University, and the Oakland County Jail. HAVEN also experienced the purchase of our first PC’s, the “birth” of our prevention mascot Daisy, and we became a key member of several state and local teams at the forefront of our issues. We also successfully launched our START forensic examination program. And like many in their 20’s, we experienced our first major crisis – a fire at our shelter.
Our most recent decade, our 30’s, saw growth by adding the Personal Protection Office. It was also a time when we began to experience growing pains. Feeling that our first home, a major fixer upper, had grown cramped for our needs we began to think through the decision of renting vs buying a new space. We also took a realistic look at our programming against best practices and future trends and saw an opportunity for growth. And as we approached the wise old age of 40 – we decided to buy land and build a new facility!
So as we enter our 40th year, we are not only grateful for our past, but we are excited about our future! Before we close the books on 2015, we will officially move into our new home! More importantly, we will change the fundamental way in which we serve survivors. We will become more effective, more efficient and more financially stable….qualities that every 40-year-old strives for!
Another quality that many of us don’t learn until our later years is gratitude. So in closing, I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to each of you who have supported us. Whether you have been a part of our past or are helping us move into the future…..you have played a vitally important role. We would not have come this far or have so much to look forward to without your support. Thank you and here’s to another successful 40 years!