Family Haven fundraiser aims to help more women, children

Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, center, receives the 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award from Family Haven Director Shandra Dawkins, right,  and Board President Marie Dinsmore.
Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, center, receives the 2017 Humanitarian of the Year Award from Family Haven Director Shandra Dawkins, right, and Board President Marie Dinsmore.
KATHLEEN STURGEON/Herald
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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — More than 200 women and children have been helped by the Forsyth County Family Haven emergency shelter.

Those families stayed an average of 78 days, receiving food, clothing, case management, life skills training, access to medical care and a safety plan.

Those women and children were honored Oct. 11 at the annual Forsyth County Family Haven Purple Purse Luncheon held at The Metropolitan Club in Alpharetta.

Nearly 3,000 domestic violence victims have been served by Family Haven’s crisis line, legal advocacy services, community support groups and other outreach services.

Domestic violence survivors were honored along with businesses and community members who work with the nonprofit.

The event benefits the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse’s 2017 challenge, a nationwide fundraising program that activates more than 200 domestic violence nonprofits.

Donations help to shelter and feed families, give them medical treatment and counseling, and transportation to find housing and employment, said Executive Director Shandra Dawkins.

Victims pay nothing for the services because the organization believes they should be focused on healing, developing a sustainable safety plan and becoming self-sufficient.

“Forsyth County Family Haven will bring financial abuse out of the darkness and into the light,” Dawkins said. “It’s a major form of abuse that keeps victims financially tied into potentially dangerous and toxic relationships. Often, victims don’t have the financial means to leave an abusive situation. Our goal is to provide financial empowerment to women.”

Domestic abuse survivor Marylou Harris gave the keynote speech and spoke about her own experiences growing up and as an adult living in abusive situations.

She said by the grace of God she had options to leave.

“But sadly, many do not,” Harris said. “I continue to be impressed at the level of care and the quality of this amazing facility. Forsyth County Family Haven is a true blessing to our community. It’s critical we continue to support and spread the word so women can feel a sense of hope and believe that change is possible.”

Often, Dawkins sees mothers and children come into Family Haven, disheveled, crying and with their items in trash bags.

But after weeks of counseling, education, legal advocacy and parenting classes, she sees a complete metamorphosis.

“No longer do I walk through the halls of the shelter and see that child crying or kicking the wall out of anger because of what he or she has seen,” Dawkins said. “I hear laughter of children and moms. That victim has transformed to survivor. She has broken the intergenerational domestic violence cycle not only for herself, but her child and generations to come.”

To learn more about Family Haven, visit forsythcountyfamilyhaven.info.


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