We've been Helping Families for 30 Years
Today we are fully engaged in helping Build Stronger Families.
In the last annual report, SAAFE HOUSE served a total of 395 women and children in outreach services and 171 clients resided in our shelters. Clients in our shelters average about 35 nights of stay, and collectively amount to 5887 shelter nights, but their stays can actually be only one day or a number of months. In serving our 395 outreach clients our staff logged about 2792 days of client service.
In the beginning only a handful of people were involved.
SAAFE House was originally organized as the Walker County Family Violence Council. The stated purpose of Walker County Family Violence Counsel was to provide services for residential (shelter) or non-residential victims of family violence. The program began providing basic services in October of 1984 through the Good Shepherd Mission. The WCFVC was awarded a state grant in September 1985 and hired its first executive director, Cindy Ximenes in October 1985. Using local hotels and the local mission for emergency shelter, the council began providing other services such as legal advocacy, police assistance, child care, emergency and medical care, counseling, provisions to assist victims in obtaining secure, independent lifestyles, and referrals to appropriate social service agencies.
In April 1986, both office space and a shelter facility were donated by business members of the Huntsville community. Through the efforts of volunteers, the office became functional and the shelter habitable by the following June. In its first year of operation, SAAFE House served 27 shelter clients, 33 non-shelter clients and took 141 Crisis Line calls.
In 1988 a sexual assault program was added to the list of available services, as no other existed. In order to reflect the expanded services the organization’s name was changed the following year to SAAFE House, which stands for "Sexual Assault and Abuse Free Environment".
The SAAFE House’s successful growth is due to hundreds of volunteer hours. The organization had only ten regular volunteers in the beginning; there are now more than 150 volunteers who participate throughout the year. As our client’s needs continue to grow and as the need for services becomes more evident, our need for volunteers also becomes more pressing. The board of directors serve faithfully as volunteers that help to govern the agency, and along with other volunteers fill an essential role in the organization’s assistance to women and children in our community who are victimized. Some volunteers commit to a regular weekly schedule, while others are engaged on an as needed basis.
In 1992, we expanded services to reach victims in Polk County. Community members began organizing, and in the lower region of the courthouse building a Polk County office started providing services one afternoon a week and over time the community once again rallied support for this organization and office space was donated, allowing for expansion of services and service delivery in that county. In 1994, with the donation of a house, refurbishing began and a shelter was opened through community efforts. Polk County has grown and presently resides in the County Annex building, where it has room for donations for client needs and space for individual and group services. In the Summer & Fall of 2013 the shelter in Livingston underwent many renovations.
In summer of 2006, the Huntsville SAAFE House moved into the current location, a former church, which doubled the space available for client services. made its debut in May 2004 on the Huntsville Courthouse Square, but moved into the SAAFE HOUSE offices on the corner of Sam Houston & 15th when expansion was necessary. Clients come into the shop for free clothing and other necessities. Elite Repeat is essential to SAAFE House in the sense that monies raised through Elite Repeat can be used to offset cost of operations that are not covered by grants funds.
In 2006, we also saw the need and established an office in Trinity. It is occupied by one person full-time, but the resources of the agency are completely available to clients in that area.
The SAAFE House currently has 2 shelters and 3 outreach locations. In Walker, and Polk the offices are open five days a week to provide a full range of services. San Jacinto county receives services as needed. The Trinity County office is open four days a week.