Safe & Fear Free Environment
Program Area: Human Services Housing/Shelter Domestic Violence
Grants Received: 2002: $54,000, 2001: $15,835, 1999: $2,750
By definition, domestic violence occurs when one person uses emotional, sexual, and/or physical abuse to gain power and control over another person. Sadly, no one is immune to domestic violence. The victims may be male or female, young or old, single or married. They may live in the heart of downtown Anchorage or they may live in the remote corners of rural Alaska. Fortunately, there are a number of programs and resources that provide critical support to those in need.
Started in 1982 with a staff of two and a handful of volunteers, Safe & Fear-Free Environment (SAFE) has provided support to the victims of domestic violence living in the Bristol Bay region. Twenty years later, the SAFE program includes a 16-bed shelter, five-bed emergency home for children in State custody, and several unique programs, which provide victim advocacy services. In addition, SAFE volunteers run a toll-free 24-hour crisis hotline serving the Bristol Bay region.
Several coats of white enamel paint and repaired cabinet doors provided the well-used kitchen with a temporary face-lift, but the shelter still struggled to meet the growing needs of its residents. Meals were eaten in shifts, since the kitchen lacked the seating space for the women and children to share their meals together. Condensation and water damage had rotted the wood base around the sink and drawers were literally held on by duct tape painted with the white enamel.
In 2001, SAFE received a grant to complete the long-overdue kitchen renovations. Following several months of hard work and dedicated volunteers, the renovations were complete and immediately noticed by the shelter residents. "Looks really nice!" "Much better, feels really homey." "It feels like a home should feel… everything clean and nice."
Perhaps the impact of the remodel is best summarized by Ginger Baim, Executive Director of SAFE:
"The kitchen is huge - even though we didn't add any square footage - brightly lit, easy to work in and easy to keep clean. We have a dining room table that seats six and is capable of expanding to seat 10 at a time. Life revolves around the kitchen. Children do their homework; women do traditional crafts and sewing. There is nearly always a picture puzzle laid out. Those so inclined roll out cookie dough or knead homemade bread. There is talk and laughing and camaraderie. It's as if our shelter came back to life."