Haven House NWI approaches four decades of providing safe place for victims of domestic violence
“Haven House is available 365, 24/7 — we never close and are always only a phone call away,” said Lynn Langton, executive director of Haven House NWI in Hammond. The nonprofit agency is an emergency shelter that welcomes domestic violence and sexual assault survivors from across Northwest Indiana.
The organization has operated for 39 years, and with its four-decade milestone approaching next year, plans are underway for a “making-a-difference celebration” in 2023, said Bernadette “Bobbi” Costa, a Haven House board member.
The shelter provides basic necessities for domestic violence survivors, including safe housing, meals and personal care products.
The shelter is set up like a home, so residents feel comfortable and safe, the organization said. And just as they would at home, residents are responsible for cooking and doing household chores with food and cleaning supplies supplied by the shelter.
There also are activities for children. The shelter has a backyard playground, and computers are available to residents for conducting housing searches or working on resumes, Langton said.
“Haven House provides prevention programs to reduce domestic violence,” Langton said. The organization added crisis services to meet critical needs and bridge services to transition back into the community.
The prevention program works with schools, clubs and youth centers to discuss topics such as healthy relationships and the dynamics of abuse, which may happen at any age and in any type of relationship, Langton said. The shelter’s bridge program helps former residents and survivors when they leave Haven House.
“It is important that survivors know that Haven House is always there to support their changing needs,” Langton said. “Former residents are always welcome to return to the shelter for programs, counseling and legal advocacy.”
Langton said the shelter’s relationships with clients don’t end when someone leaves Haven House.
Costa said she became involved with the shelter when a young woman and her daughter found their way to the North Township trustee office where she was chief deputy.
“She (the young woman) was abused, and through the years, we helped her, and she then became a board member,” Costa said.
In January, Haven House added staff to include personnel with advanced degrees for increased support for its domestic violence services, including two part-time social workers, and staff with master’s degrees in human development, another with a law degree and one who is a law degree candidate.
Haven House also provides weekly programs, including bibliotherapy and family therapy; counseling one-on-one and in a group with a staff member with a master’s degree in social work; musical relaxation and journaling; art therapy for all ages; and gardening, among other activities.
“These new programs significantly help both residents and community members,” Langton said. “Program participants have commented on how the groups have boosted their emotions and made them feel less isolated as they recover from abusive relationships.”
Costa said Haven House has had many fundraisers through the years. Some have included signings with book authors, style shows, mystery dinners and taste of the holidays.
“It has been the hard work and dedication of the past and present board members to (get us) where we are today with our transitional house,” Costa said.
Langton said Haven House assisted residents during the pandemic by helping them access funds for economic justice, emergency funding and crime victims’ compensation.
Financial empowerment is a common challenge for survivors, she said.
“Too often we hear survivors say, ‘How did I let this happen,’ and the truth is, that the use of power and control is a strategic, calculated choice by abusers,” Langton said. “Survivors are manipulated.”
Programs at Haven House support empowerment and education about domestic violence and personal growth.
“Haven House supports and honors each survivor’s journey — however that may occur,” Langton said.
She said Haven House will always welcome and support survivors of domestic violence, as it has served domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, and their children for almost four decades.
The nonprofit was established in 1987 as a 24-hour emergency shelter for domestic violence survivors with children. Its crisis hotline is (219) 931-2090. Here is a wish list of items that community members can donate:
- Laundry detergent, fabric softener and dryer sheets
- Garbage bags (13 and 33 gallon)
- New pillows
- Blankets (twin and queen)
- Large bath and face towels
- Old magazines
- Gift cards/gas cards
- New underwear in various sizes, including children
- New pajamas in various sizes, including children
- New T-shirts, sweatpants in various sizes, including children
- OTC medicines, including allergy and cold remedies
Click here to read more from the August-September 2022 issue of Northwest Indiana Business Magazine.