Safe Haven Light is excited to announce the schedule for the 5th Annual 2013 Lake Fest and River Rally. This year’s events will include an evening of music and storytelling about the history of East Tennessee at the Tennessee Valley Theater in Spring City, A motorcycle ride, a golf tournament and the River Rally. All of these events will be raising money for the Safe Haven Light Youth Respite Care Home located in Spring City, TN.
If you would like more information about this year’s events or if you wish to include your company or business as a sponsor, please contact Gary Venice at 423-365-2577 or email email@example.com
For the last few months we have been working behind the scenes to update the visual impact and ease of use of the Safe Haven Light website. We think you will find this new format easier to use and more visually interesting than are previous site.
We have added features like the upcoming events tab where we will post activities or events that will be sponsored by or be fore the benefit of Safe Haven Light. We will also allow you to access on line registrations for our events such as the Lakefest and River Rally among others. You can also look forward to more photos and videos as we go forward and we have a dedicated tab for each.
As we continue to make progress, look for updates here on the site. We hope you will come back often and we invite your comments about this site or about Safe Haven Light in general. We look forward to hearing from you!
A lot has happened since our last update! We have managed to prepare the facility and we are working through the final touches needed to have the home complete. I mentioned in our last update that we will be using the facility to help some of the local high school students who are 18 or if needed 17 year olds that have been legally and properly emancipated should they be forced to leave home and are trying to stay in school to graduate. Since the process of getting the state certification has been dragging on, we felt that having a ready facility that was sitting idle while these teens were “couch surfing” with friends or even using there car as shelter was just not right. We have come to an agreement with a “house mother” and she will be overseeing these young adults while they are staying in the home.
Work continues on state certification and the search for permanent house parents continue. We have developed the “operations blueprint” for the facility and we are currently working on identifying the wrap around resources that will be necessary to support the 10 – 14 year old boys we will be housing.
Also, we have kicked off the campaign or this year’s major fund raiser, the “2012 Watts Bar Lake Fest”. We have already made significant progress and our volunteers are really digging in to make this our 4th annual event the best ever. I have included a short video which announces the event for your review. This video is posted on YouTube and we also intend to send this out to all of our customers and clients. If you have a customer email database we would love for you to share this link with them and anyone else you think would like to view it. We will be posting several more of these before the event, one of which will be a tour of the SHL home! If you know anyone who would like to help make a difference in the lives of the children and would like to volunteer to help, please have them contact us at 423-365-2577 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The furniture delivery arrived on Monday! Laura Olmstead and the staff from We Care received the materials and assembled and set up the pieces in the respective rooms.
Going back to an earlier post, I said I would be posting pictures of the clean up work that was done on MLK Jr day with the help of the students at Bryan College. The link below will take you to the slide show.
I will be scheduling a meeting today with the planning and operations group of We Care to discuss the timeline for State Approval as well as utilizing the facility during the interim. I will report back here next week the results of that meeting and hope to lay out for everyone the plan going forward.
There will also be a meeting next Thursday the 9th of February to kick off the planning for the 2012 SHL Lakefest. The meeting will be held at 4:00 pm at the East Tennessee waterfront Properties Office in Spring City. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.
I wanted to express our thanks to the student volunteers from Bryan College who assisted in the clean up and set up of the facility as part of their MLK Jr. day service. They did a great job!
We are now waiting on the furniture arrival to finalize the set up of the house. At the recent We Care Board of Directors meeting, I reported that we will be proceeding with the state approval and the effort to find qualified house parents must move forward as soon as possible. I will be working with the We Care staff to complete that process. In addition I advised the Board that while we move down the certification road and the recruitment effort for house parents we will also take steps to assist another issue effecting our youth population.
In the next week I will be setting up a series of meetings with Sue Brown of the Rhea County School System as well as some of the Staff of We Care to begin the process of providing shelter for some of our homeless teenagers who are trying to remain in school. This is a short term intervention but I am of the opinion that every night of shelter we can provide is still a safer and caring environment then these children face now. I will continue to update the progress of this effort here on the web site.
We are also setting up a schedule for the 2012 Lake Fest fund raiser. These meetings are generally held on Thursday afternoons and I will be publishing a schedule for those meetings as well as an over strategic plan for this years event on the web site.
If you are interested in assisting with the Safe Haven Project, I encourage you to contact me and I will be happy to add you to our volunteer list.
This post is a little delayed due to our weekend spent exhibiting at the Atlanta Boat Show. Monday was Martin Luther King day and we were fortunate to have a group of volunteers from Bryan Collage come over to the Safe Haven House and help with the final clean up and the setting up of the furniture we have received so far. These students help restore my faith in the youth of today turning into the leaders of tomorrow. What a great attitude they have and were eager to jump right in and get things set up. I also want to thank Laura Olmstead from We Care for setting up the volunteers and working with them to get it into finalized mode. Our next step is to discuss using the facility as a temporary housing for the displaced high school students while we get final state approval for the respite care piece and find and engage house parents. If we can give these high school students even a few days of coverage it will help the situation. I will continue to update all of you as we move into the operations phase of this facility.
I have several pictures that I will be posting shortly of the MLK day event.
With the final pieces of furniture due to arrive any day, we continue to work on the state approval. This process grinds slowly but steadily and we continue too move the process forward every day. In the interim, we are making plans to serve another segment of our youth population which we can operate without the meeting the strict state requirements. There are Junior and Senior high school students who, for a variety of reasons can no longer stay in there home. These youth are either staying with various friends, (there is even a term for it… Couch surfing!) or in some cases they are sleeping and living out of there cars. We intend to get some of them moved into to the safe haven house and operate it much like a college dorm would be with adult supervision.
This process will help these children by providing all of the services we intend to provide, and giving them a secure place to reside until a permanent solution can be met. It will also allow us to de bug our program and make sure that the process we envision works smoothly. This is a temporary use of the facility and will not interrupt the regulatory process to serve the children we have intended this facility to serve. But it seemed a waste to let the facility sit idle for the next few months while we could have an impact on helping another group of our children that need our assistance.
I will continue to report on the progress of both projects as we move forward. Please check back next week!
Obtaining funding for the Safe Haven Light house continues to be the key issue in getting it operational. This past week, I wrote several letters to state officials asking them to consider the good work the SHL house will be ding and to look for a way to provide funding or recommend an agency that may be able to provide a funding stream. I will be very interested to see if we even get a response to these letters.
On the local front, we continue to plan for getting the house open. I mentioned last week that the final furniture order has been placed and as soon as we take delivery we will be scheduling the state inspector to come in and perform a certification review. We are still lacking house parents and that is another area that we need to focus on. If you or someone you know would be interested and meets or can meet the foster parent criteria, please contact me at email@example.com or call and ask for Gary at 423-365-2577.
We will also start again to meet after the first of the year to plan for the operations of SHL and also get set for the upcoming year’s fundraising. I mentioned in previous posts that we will be expanding this year and changing the name from the Watts Bar Poker Run to the Watts Bar Lake Fest. The poker run will still be a major event during that week but we will also be trying to include a full week of events surrounding the July 4th Holiday. If you would be interested in helping us with the events or if you would like to contribute to the SHL project, please feel free to contact me at the information above. Next week, we will be updating the progress on meeting with the local and state officials that represent this area and also updating you on the state certification process.
All of us with the SHL project would like to wish you and yours a Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!!
Members of the SHL team were invited to attend a meeting to determine the social service needs of Rhea County. This Needs Assessment was facilitated by the Rhea County United Way Chapter. The meeting attracted service providers from a wide variety of services from the women’s shelter to the YMCA. The plan for the program was to determine the needs of the citizens of the county and then to prioritize those needs and begin a concentrated effort to address them. Not an easy task when you consider that every agency and group represented believes that their activity needs to be the top priority.
The program was effective from the standpoint that the moderators were able to identify a list of what the group thought the needs were and also what organizations or groups needed to be questioned (via a survey) what their impression of the needs are. In addition, one of the things that I brought away from the meeting was that there is no shortage of dedicated people working for the groups that were represented. The other is that there are a wide variety of services available to the citizens of Rhea County and to other organizations. My hope is that this needs assessment will not only identify the support areas that need to be addressed but also that a combined, coordinated effort of managing all of these services into a useful and effective package comes about
There have been several developments over the last two months.
On the Safe Haven House front, we have been making the final preparations by completely repainting the interior and finishing out the punch list. Because of some gracious donors, we have been able to complete the stocking of the home with most of the needed items that it takes to house and care for the children. The remaining furniture items needed are being ordered and we hope to have delivery of them before Christmas. The permitting process has been moving forward slowly. The staff has completed the process of gathering all of the information required by the state and once the final furnishings are in place we will call for the inspector to come in and conduct a review. I expect this will lead to additional items that will need to be completed, but they should be few and manageable and we intend to expedite the completion of that list so that final approval can be given.
As it relates to funding, I do not think it will come to the surprise of anyone that with the economic times we live in, help from state and local government has retrenched dramatically. This will not stop us however. The process of taking our children and sending them out of the county when respite care is required means that funds are being expended somewhere. Our job is to find those funds and be sure they are redirected here where the care and stability of the environment will better serve the children.
We also have a number of other avenues to explore in the process of obtaining funding for the operation of the House. Members of the Safe Haven Light House committee will be arranging meetings with our local and state officials in an effort to find a way to acquire funds from these entities that may be directly or indirectly supporting the movement of our children out of the area. We will also be sitting down with local industrial and business leaders in hopes of gaining there support for the SHL project.
The community will also be engaged with a campaign to further raise awareness of the project and the need to support it. We will solicit the opportunity to speak with local community groups as well as present a number of fund raising functions that we hope will not only raise money but further raise awareness of the project and the benefit it will bring back into this community.
The Safe Haven Light Project has been slow in coming; that is true, but we are making progress and this program will succeed. The children of this county deserve nothing less and we appreciate your continued support and interest. If you would like to become involved, please feel free to call or email: