Dianne L Stallings , Ruidoso News Published 1:20 p.m. MT June 22, 2017 | Updated 11 hours ago
Transitional program is next step after domestic violence emergency
hope harbor sign
The Nest, the only domestic violence shelter in Lincoln County, is considered one of the best in the state. But the facility operated by Help End Abuse for Life is limited to providing services during the emergencies experienced by the hundreds of victims who pass through its doors from Lincoln County and other areas.
To extend that help to the next step and offer a path to transform lives, a local organization called Hope Harbor has formed.
“Hope Harbor will be a transition home for women who are coming out of domestic violence shelters,” Executive Director Rick Hutchison said during a recent interview about the program. “In January, Christ Community Fellowship in Capitan Church closed its door and at that time, they voted unanimously to give their property to Hope Harbor. We are in the process of finalizing that title change and we will own that building and property.”
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Work on Hope Harbor began about five years ago, Hutchison, pastor at Angus Church, said.
“Obviously, with the gift of the property, it is getting a lot more serious,” he said. “We are trying to determine what we are going to do with the building and property and how we are going to use that. Our hope would be that within the next 18 months to 24 months, we would have the facility open and ready to go.”
Rick Hutchison is executive director of Hope Harbor.
Rick Hutchison is executive director of Hope Harbor. (Photo: Dianne Stallings/Ruidoso News)
Hutchison said he saw the need for a transitional facility while he served on the HEAL board for three years and before that while he was involved in The Nest’s “faith hour.”
“There are many transitional homes throughout the United States and four years ago, I had the opportunity to visit nine of them in Texas, New Mexico and one in California, to see what they are like and what the process of this is. We are a 501.C3, a completely faith-based program, no state or national funding at all.”
Hope Harbor is a local nonprofit organization with an 11-member board composed mostly of individuals from the area and two from Texas, he said. Through those members, five different churches are associated with the board, but more churches in the Lincoln County faith community are involved in the process, he said.
But the project will need help from many quarters.
“We want people to become more involved and we will be looking for volunteers to help as we put this program together and the facility together,” Hutchison said. “We will be remodeling at very least. The property is about 3 acres, so an opportunity exists to do more with it than the building already there. We don’t have a final plan, but hope within the next two months to have one setting forth what we will be doing.”
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He’d like to sign up people with different interests and skills who could help with everything from design to construction and trades. Perhaps most important is to find people willing to become mentors.
“We need people willing to lend encouragement,” he said. “The program is based on helping these women get to the place where they can stand alone, become contributing members of society. We will be working with Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso and Workforce Solutions. It will be a very strict program, not just open to anyone. They will have to work.
“But initially as a two-year program, they won’t be charged to be part of it. They can come and live for free while we help them gain the skills they need.”
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Those skills could entail higher education and technical knowledge, or they may be as basic as learning how to handle a checking account, a job interview or a resume, he said.
“So many times women coming out of domestic violence don’t know how to handle a checking account, a job interview or write resume, sometimes not even how to shop for groceries and take care of their children,” he said.
The program’s focus is women with children, “because they have the highest at stake,” Hutchison said.
“They want to improve life for themselves and their children,” he said. “We want to break the cycle of domestic violence. What I saw while on the HEAL board was many women when they leave The Nest, have no place to go and end up back in a domestic violence situation. And children raised in domestic violence many times become victims (as adults) or abusers themselves.”
A brochure about Hope Harbor lists services as housing; case management with emphasis on accountability to a personal goal plan; life skills classes in finance, parenting, health, nutrition, personal development and Bible study; consistent emotional support through the care of Christian staff and volunteers; and referrals to community resources for college education, vocational evaluation and development counseling; and family assistance.
For more information about Hope Harbor, check the website at Hopeharbornm.org, the Facebook page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Hutchison at 937-4929.