Guest post by:
Rachel M. Decker, Executive Director, HAVEN Foundation and Director of Development, HAVEN
It’s January. That means most of us are recouperating from a joyous (albeit stressful) time of year. Shopping for gifts, baking cookies, planning parties, visiting with friends and family were all-consuming activities those last few weeks of 2015. If you’re like me, the preparations sometimes felt a bit overwhelming. But the joy of watching a loved one open a gift, hearing a child talk about their trip to see Santa, or just enjoying a glass of wine with a friend all made the hustle and bustle well worth it!
But, as I sit here reflecting on my own holidays, I can’t help but think about the women, children and families we serve. Every day I see the physical and emotional toll that domestic and sexual violence takes on those experiencing it. But during the holidays already stressful situations can become even more worrisome. Mothers worry how they will provide their children with all of the happiness and cheer that the time of year is supposed to bring. How will she cook a holiday meal or bake cookies with her kids? Where will coats and mittens come from? What if she can’t afford presents? How will she explain that Santa couldn’t make it this year??
It brings tears to my eyes just imagining how that must feel. Fortunately, because of our extremly generous community – because of YOU – we were able to ensure that our families had as normal of a holiday season as possible.
Our Gift Giveaway program, which annually provides our clients with holiday gifts, was able to send 281 adults and 610 children home with gifts this year! Moms selected from helpful household items like coffee makers and towels and were also able to pick out something special for themselves. A new pair of pajamas, jewelry, and perfume can go a long way towards making someone feel special. And, most importantly to those moms, they received gifts for their kids. Necessities like coats and hats, and plenty of toys, books and board games were all found under the Christmas tree thanks to the over 160 individuals, companies, religious organizations and service groups who donated so generously!
In addition to the items, HAVEN also received over $355,000 from 570 donors just during the month of December. These funds not only ensure that the families staying in our residential program this time of year have a happy holiday, but the funds all help ensure that our services are available 365 days of the year.
Lastly, thanks to several of our community partners, our families were also treated to some very special holiday parties. The Detroit Lions hosted almost 100 women and children at Ford Field for a once in a lifetime experience, and Running Back Joique Bell took 35 kids on a special shopping trip. The Detroit Tigers hosted another 25 kids and their parents for dinner and shopping. And, several additional groups and individuals came to HAVEN to provide special holiday meals and activities for our families.
Whew! It’s been a wonderful whirlwind. And with 2016 ahead of us, I am refreshed knowing the hearts of the women and children we serve are full, thanks to you.