Health care for victims of domestic violence took center stage Monday during Safe Harbor of Northeast Kentucky’s annual Candlelight Vigil.
The event commemorates the lives of Kentucky women who died in the past year as the result of domestic violence and is part of Safe Harbor’s annual observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Safe Harbor is a domestic violence shelter that serves the counties in the FIVCO Area Development District: Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Elliott and Lawrence. The shelter offers three levels of care, including emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent, supportive housing (apartments) on site.
White Ribbon honorees included Safe Harbor board member Dr. Laura Reese for her work to bring health-care services to the Safe Harbor campus, and Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital for the hospital’s mobile mammography unit that visits the Safe Harbor campus twice each year. The award was accepted by Luann Serey, who works with Safe Harbor to schedule the mammography unit visits as well as to help facilitate follow-up care.
“I am a strong advocate for Safe Harbor because domestic violence is an ongoing problem that seems to be taboo,” said Reese, who also was the keynote speaker for the vigil.
“Women are so afraid to get out of their situations, and when they finally take the steps to do it, I think there should be a well-rounded, full-bodied place they can go to get their lives turned around.”
Reese advocated for the King’s Daughters Medical Center mobile unit to visit Safe Harbor once each month to provide care for residents. During those times when the KDMC mobile unit could not visit the campus, Reese had a clinic at Safe Harbor to treat and refer patients.
“Dr. Reese is a tremendous advocate for our families,” said Ann Perkins, executive director of Safe Harbor. “Her passion for them and their health are a blessing to our program.”
The vigil concluded with the lighting of candles and the reading of the names of this year’s victims, which included 25 Kentucky women who died as the result of domestic violence. A woman from Greenup County and one from Boyd County were part of this year’s list.
Other program participants included Marty Vannatter, president of Safe Harbor’s board, who read the names of the 25 victims; Karen Curnutte, who sang the national anthem; the Rev. Mark Kloha, who gave the invocation; and the Boyd County High School NJROTC Color Guard, who presented the colors under the direction of retired Master Chief James Sandlin.
Safe Harbor has occupied the former tuberculosis hospital complex in Ashland for nearly 30 years. During its three decades, Safe Harbor has housed more than 15,000 women, children and men. Every year for the last five years, that number has grown, and the facility now houses more than 1,200 women and children each year.
Safe Harbor is in the midst of a capital campaign to renovate and expand the emergency shelter, which has a capacity of 44. Safe Harbor was awarded a $750,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank based on a 3-to-1 match, meaning the organization must raise $250,000.
Renovation and expansion work is anticipated to begin early next spring, Perkins said.
For more information about making a donation to the Emergency Shelter renovation and expansion project, call (606) 329-9304.