Safehome Systems Appoints Highland County Representative
Highland County resident, Kari Lightner, was recently appointed to the Safehome Systems Board of Directors, the first representative from the county in several years. She has information on the nonprofit organization that serves Alleghany, Bath and Highland Counties, the City of Covington and the towns of Iron Gate and Clifton Forge.
Ms. Lightner says, “We have a 501(c)(3) status. We serve families in the Alleghany Highlands and have been since about 1987. We advocate against domestic violence, dating violence and sexual violence. We provide services to women, children, men, anybody that’s seeking services that are experiencing any kind of violence. We’re able to provide emergency shelter, and we’re equipped with 18 beds, counseling, legal advocacy, public awareness, and educational presentations. It’s important for people to remember that the services are always free and confidential.
“One thing that I think’s really unique about Safehomes is that we have a 24/7 crisis hotline, and anybody in crisis can call that, and they get a live person. The hotline number is 540-965-3237. That phone is answered by a live person, so you get immediate help.”
Ms. Lightner says that having a representative from Highland County helps bring a relatable face to the Board that understands the struggles in the community, such as limited access to services like Safehome Systems.
The topic of domestic violence may be considered a taboo subject for some, but the startling statistics in our area point to a need for awareness.
Ms. Lightner continues, “Our annual report for last year from July of ‘17 to June 30, 2018, adults that were sheltered were 47. Children that were sheltered were 39. Nights that people actually spent in our shelter were 2,320. In regards to support and advocacy, domestic violence that was reported against adults was 117. For children, it was 48. Sexual assaults on adults that were reported was 16; on children, 27. So, that total for support and advocacy is about 238 in our Alleghany Highlands, so remarkable – very sad, but I think it’s important that people understand what those numbers look like. So, definitely a service that our community needs and utilizes. The hotline that I mentioned earlier, we received 1,448 calls on that hotline.
“You know, I think, sometimes, I think we focus on the ugly part, or like you say, ‘taboo part’ of Safehome Systems and what we do, but I think it’s also important to remember that we also do a lot of community education. You know, our mission really is to end violence in communities and create a violence-free community in the Alleghany Highlands, and, so, part of that is really providing education to the community, and one thing that we really focused on in 2017 and ’18 is community presentations, and we actually completed 295 presentations to the community.”
To learn more about Safehome Systems, including ways to donate and upcoming events, like a fundraising reception and dinner at the Inn at Warm Springs on April 27, 2019, people can go online to www.safehomesystems.org or visit their Facebook page.