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Women's shelter seeks volunteers

Luan Haskins is an advocate at the women's shelter and helps with children there. Paula Quam/Tribune

They say domestic abuse goes much deeper than the bruises or emotional pain … it is the systematic suffocation of another person’s spirit.

And while the Lakes Crisis Center in Detroit Lakes can provide safety, food and some professional therapy, advocates there are now pleading with the community to help with some much needed, deeper healing.

“Our shelter is almost filled,” said Jan Logan, who continually has to try to stretch the facility’s budget and its staff.

“We need help,” she said, “Anything anybody can do … we’ll take it.”

Logan says while they do offer a parenting class, she and other staff members have a long list of spirit-filling, confidence-boosting classes they would love to provide to the women and children at the shelter; they just need volunteers.

“Things like knitting,” said Logan, “or I would love to get somebody in here once a week to do hair or nails or finance classes…”

Logan says many of the women who walk into the Crisis Center are lacking various life skills that she hopes the public can help with.

“It’s taking people and helping them reevaluate their lives and helping them figure out how to move forward in a healthy way, but you have to have support systems coming at you from every different direction,” said Logan.

Even those who don’t necessarily have a teachable talent can help, too, as the shelter is in great need of child care.

“We want residents to be able to attend the classes here and to be able to go see the psychologist,” said Katie Hagerty-Pennick, who works as an advocate at the shelter.  “We’re trying to help the residents find housing, employment and other issues that require outside appointments, but it’s really a strain when they have children,” said Hagerty-Pennick. “They just need a break to be able to go out and do some of these things.”

While shelter employees welcome any help they can get with daycare, they will also be doing a background check and screening volunteers to ensure the children’s safety.

“It’s important that we get people in here who have experience with children and a passion,” said Logan, “because these children have been significantly impacted by trauma and abuse and therefore we need to work with these children a little differently.”

Logan says an elderly couple who like to play with children would be a great asset, as would people who like to clean, organize, those who could help with transportation to and from events around town and even an artist willing to offer up their talents.    

“We have a lot of fun ideas for this room,” said advocate Luan Haskins, as she looked around the children’s playroom, “We’d love to get a mural up and do some painting, so we could really use an artist.”

Haskins, who started out as a volunteer at the shelter, now works with the residents taking care of their needs and getting them involved with arts and crafts.

“It gives them an escape; it helps them build their self-esteem and  helps them be able to create,” said Haskins, who last week helped residents make lamps out of bottles.  “And let me tell you, they were so pleased … so proud that they were able to do something and it’s something they can take with them when they start out.”

Haskins says donations of school supplies and craft supplies would be used for projects that bring parents and children together.

“They’re all so stressed out,” said Haskins, “and so it just gives parents and children a chance to bond rather than just disciplining and dealing with stresses.”

Another need the shelter has is a couple of special men to be a positive, strong, caring role model to the young boys who don’t have it.

“We would love to get a mentoring program going here,” said Logan, who admits they’re too understaffed to be able to launch a real program like that quite yet, “but right now we have an 11-year-old boy who loves sports and just doesn’t have a good male role model in his life … and this occurs a lot.”

Although the shelter does receive some funds from the state, it’s not enough to cover the costs of operations, which means the volunteer board is always looking for ways to fundraise and are in need of new, fresh ideas.

“There are people out there who like to fundraise and make money … we need that,” said Logan.

And if all goes well and community members start stepping forward with their talents, Logan says she’s hoping she might need one other thing … a volunteer coordinator.   

“Wouldn’t that be great?” she smiled.

For more information or to volunteer time, talents or resources, call 847-8572.