The April 10 presenter for the Rotary Club of Heber Springs was Emily Carlton, Lead Victim Advocate for Margie’s Haven House, the only domestic violence shelter in Cleburne County, in business since 1989. Emily presented to the board about the myths and realities of the shelter and the work that they do. The three biggest myths about the shelter, she said, are that they are a homeless shelter, they receive 100% of the funding from the government and/or grants, and that they only serve women. These things are not true.

Here are the facts. Although domestic abuse can result in homelessness, their focus is not on the homeless, but rather those who have suffered domestic abuse. They do assist with referrals to homeless shelters as needed.  The shelter depends greatly on donations from individuals, organizations and clubs like the Rotary Club to meet their needs. Government funding has, in fact, been cut in recent years. Finally, the shelter serves both men and women victims of domestic violence.

The mission of Margie’s Haven House is to provide shelter for victims and their children of domestic violence/abuse. They also provide victims individual and group support, a 24/7 crisis line, and referral to appropriate community services and resources. They seek to empower victims to feel connected, worthy, and to become their own decision makers and self-sufficient while living free of domestic violence, and they strive to increase community awareness of the problem of domestic violence.

All services are provided to their clients free of charge. These include not only shelter, food, and a warm bed, but clothes, hygiene and other necessities, and referral to other resources such as medical help, dental needs, legal counsel, child care, employment assistance, local re-housing assistance and even transportation out of the area in cases where it is in the best interest/safety of the client. The shelter will also work with clients to establish a safety plan for the clients and their children and assist them in setting goals and actively working to achieve those goals.

What can the public do to help? “Anything you would need to run your own house, we need to run ours,” Ms. Carlton said. “Donations are always welcome. It takes a lot to keep a home running 24/7.” Noting that the shelter has been filled to capacity in recent months, the need for donations is even greater than usual at present.  For more information about their services, or to find out how you can help, contact Margie’s Haven House at 501-362-6757, by email at margieshavenhouse@gmail.com, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MargiesHavenHouseInc or on the web at www.margieshavenhouse.org

Rotarians are “People of Action” who are making a difference locally, nationally and internationally.  The Object of Rotary is "to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise." The Rotary Club of Heber Springs meets each Tuesday at noon on the ASU-Heber Springs Campus. For more information about the Rotary Club of Heber Springs, please visit our Facebook page at facebook.com/TheRotaryClubofHeberSpringsAR.