BOONE — In its 17 years of operation, Safe Harbor has been working to help women deal with some of life’s toughest struggles, including homelessness and addiction.
On Aug. 9, the Hickory-based nonprofit opened their new location in Boone to help women through recovery and onto the next chapters of their lives.
The expansion comes after Safe Harbor announced in June that the nonprofit had acquired Transitions of Women in Recovery, which offered guidance and support for women who were navigating the process of recovery re-entry after being released from the Watauga County Detention Center.
Through their new location, located at 890 W. King St. in downtown Boone, Safe Harbor offers an entryway into the programs offered to help during recovery, which can lead to a year-long residential program in Hickory.
Safe Harbor Executive Director Vicki Murray said this includes their Step Up program, where clients learn about the science of addiction, the affects it has on people in every way and how to battle it. She added that women in the program also receive counseling, as many have dealt with past trauma.
Murray said that a requirement for “graduation” from the program is that the client has a job — which Safe Harbor helps them find — to get their new lives built back up step-by-step.
“They’re getting back out into the world with a little bit of protective barriers around them, they continue to work with case managers, they still have their friends and mentors,” Murray said.
According to Murray, one highlight she sees for the organization is their alumni program.
“The thing I think speaks a lot to Safe Harbor’s — and our staff’s — credit is when our alumni, in some cases, may relapse, they reach out,” Murray said. “They’re not afraid to reach out, they know they won’t be shamed and know we’re going to be there for them.”
Murray said the acquisition and expansion in Boone began when TWR founder Nanette Franklin had to move on to the next phase in her life.
“Nanette Franklin has been a friend of Safe Harbor for many years. She did jail ministry for 30 years and she was the founder of Transitions,” Murray said. “She discipled women in jail, she would help connect them to resources that were best for their recovery … She was closing Transitions, and whenever a nonprofit dissolves, anything they have, they have to give it to another — like minded — nonprofit. She called to tell us that and she wanted their assets to go to Safe Harbor.”
Murray said that for Safe Harbor, the decision was an easy one, already being involved in the field and having worked with Transitions, the organization felt it was the right move to make.
“It is just a normal extension of who we are,” Murray said. “We have someone (in Franklin) right there in Watauga County that knows all the other agencies that we want to partner with. We want to be an asset, we want to come alongside of them and enhance what they already have. All these other agencies that are working with women, can send women to our recovery center and a trained recovery advocate will help connect them.”
In Hickory, Safe Harbor has spent years building up a residential program for women in recovery as well as women and children experiencing homelessness. Murray said having that option for clients in Watauga is a great benefit for helping them.
“It really is best for someone that’s looking for recovery to go outside of their existing community,” Murray said. “A lot of these women will be referred to either our transitional housing, or our recovery program, and that’ll take them out of Watauga County. Our hope is to one day have a residential program in Watauga County so the people that are in Hickory — that need to get outside of their community — will be able to go to Watauga County for a residential facility.”
Currently, the Boone location only offers recovery programs, as it does not have everything the Hickory headquarters has built up over the past decade.
Murray said the plan for their new location is to one day expand it into a duplicate of what the organization has in Hickory, with a thrift store and residential facility to go along with their offices. She added that the organization had already been contemplating an expansion when they received the call from Franklin, and that the timing was too right to ignore and wait.
For more information about Safe Harbor, visit www.safeharbornc.org, call (828) 326-7233 or visit the Boone location at 890 W. King St., Suites 102 and 104, in Boone.