Ribbon cutting at Safe Haven's new headquarters (Photo by Anya Tikka)
Tamara Chant outside the new headquarters after the ribbon cutting (Photo by Anya Tikka)
Tamara Chant (far right) speaks to her team (Photo by Anya Tikka)
“We’re here for any friends you might have, anyone who has something to say, who needs to be heard."
By Anya Tikka
MILFORD — Although Safe Haven never really closed, it held a grand opening on March 13 to celebrate its new premises on Broad Street.
The new Milford location is closer to the many government agencies Safe Haven works with regularly, noted the organization's new director, Tamara Chant. It makes matters easier for everyone, as when the sheriff’s escort to the court house is needed, or the law enforcement agencies that must be called to incidents of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other crimes.
Chant praised the members of her newly trained team, who, as victims' advocates, will be providing counseling and referrals to other agencies. Everyone in the program has received 80 hours of state training. Safe Haven satellites are being set up throughout the county.
“We’re here for any friends you might have, anyone who has something to say, who needs to be heard," said Chant.
She asked everyone to spread the word that "We are here."
Chant has returned to her roots after 31 years of living in Paris, France. She’s brought an impressive background in the field back to her hometown after working in Nepal and Paris to help stop trafficking, doing fundraising work, and working in women’s crisis shelters.
Getting closer to peopleThe center in Milford wants to open its doors to all area residents, Chant said, even those who may find it difficult to come to the center.
“We want to expand to offer services to all the county for people who live in areas that are more rural," she said. "Sometimes they live in areas where transportation is difficult to come down, or they might live in isolated circumstances."
Safe Haven plans to reach out to Lehman, Dingman, and Delaware townships, and localities all along Route 739, where many people live. Including families now serviced by East Stroudsburg North are also in the plans, she said.
Chant said the organization is talking with school district officials about starting classes in "media literacy," an outreach advocacy program. Topics would include conducting proper relationships, boundaries, gender proper identification with media, what to expect and accept — all tailored to age-appropriate audiences.
If any student needs outside counseling, they’ll come to the center, Chant said, and anyone who needs shelter will be accommodated.
Children's advocacy closer to homeOne big addition to the center’s program is the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). Previously, people had to go to Scranton for their services.
“We’ll be interfacing with the District Attorney and the county team forensic interviewer and DIT Team and they will be operating out of here," said Chant. Families will be able to get services immediately, with the center’s advocates, to “make things better for the child," she said.
The Interpersonal Violence Task Force is already established, and Chant said Safe Haven looks forward to forming more partnerships in the community.
The problem of domestic violence in Pike County mirrors trends all over the country. But because Pike is so rural, the challenge is getting closer to the community, whether through town halls, outreach at fire houses, or anywhere else people can get to more easily. A confidential taxi service is also available.
Safe Haven is mostly funded by state agencies, with about 30 percent coming from local fundraising and donations. Chant thanked “our many partners."
Last year, Safe Haven helped more than 500 people.
“More people today are more aware of world and domestic issues, and they are moving and starting to work in things they believe in," she said. "I think this agency is going to be very, very important in many different things, including homelessness and hunger issues in this county.”
Safe Haven's 24-hour hotline is 570-296-4357 (570-296-HELP).