Margie's Haven House offers hope to the citizens of Cleburne County

If you live in Cleburne County, you’ve more than likely heard of Margie’s Haven House.  This valuable resource for the citizens of Cleburne County has been here for over 20 years and yet, it seems, many people are only familiar with three key words in connection with the House –“shelter”, “women”, and “abuse”.  For many, the only other information they genuinely know about the place is from flyers they may have seen or by word of mouth, which can sometimes become subjected to rumor and conjecture.  So what is Margie’s Haven House and what do they do for the people of Cleburne?  We sat with the new director of Haven House, Kathy Bryan, to learn more about the shelter and how it helps the people of our county.  Bryan, whose story of personal tragedy and inspiration previously ran in The Sun-Times, was eager to get the word out to those who may be in need of their services.

According to information provided by Bryan, Margie’s Haven House “was founded in 1989 by a small group of four women who had been victimized by domestic abuse.”  Through generous donations, grants, and community support, the shelter has provided shelter and outside support to over 2000 women and children. 

Margie’s Haven House provides not only material support for victims of domestic violence, but also helps find legal assistance, employment, and any other assistance those in need may require to recover from and move past the abusive situation they escaped.  According to Haven House, when the persons being helped leave the shelter, they, along with their children if any, are assisted in finding housing, furnishings, and set-up costs since many that have fled domestic abuse escaped with nothing more than the clothes on their back.

“One thing I would like people to know that they possibly don’t know is there is an enormous population of people in this county that are in need of our services that often won’t reach out because of the nature of domestic violence,” said Bryan.  “There is a rumor going around that if you check into Margie’s Haven House, DHS is going to come and take your children.  That is not true and it is possibly preventing people from coming to us. Staying in their situation endangers their children more than coming to us and trying to get out of the situation.”  The shelter provides housing, usually 30 days, for women and their children.

Another thing people may not know about Margie’s Haven House is that it’s not just for women.  Although women comprise the majority of domestic abuse cases, men are often the silent and unnoticed victims of violence as well.  Haven House services men who may be in these abusive situations as well.  Men often find it difficult to reach out in these situations.  “As with women, there’s a lot of shame involved in these situations,” said Bryan.  “Anything we provide for a woman, we provide for a man.  We have sheltered men when there is no one else in the home and then we find alternate places for them to stay.”

Domestic abuse is more prevalent in society than may realize.  “I believe the last statistic I saw was that one in four women were abused and one in nine men,” said Lead Advocate Velder Shepperson.  Those aren’t Cleburne County statistics, but they are most likely similar, as with any other county in the nation.

Bryan encouraged anyone that is experiencing domestic violence to call their hotline at 501-362-6757.  It is staffed by volunteers 24 hours a day that will get help immediately.

For the holidays, Margie’s Haven House has their Christmas Wish List available.  Those interested in adopting a child can call them at the above number and get more information.  They also accept donations of wrapping paper, tape, Christmas decorations and other holiday items to help make this Christmas a little brighter for the abuse victims and their children.  They are also trying to make Thanksgiving baskets, with “fixings”, for 15 out of shelter clients so they can enjoy this holiday season as well.