SafeSpace, with support from the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, is expected to open an emergency shelter in the county soon. The shelter will enhance the already long list of services the non-profit organization provides to those who have suffered at the hands of domestic violence.
The organization once had an emergency shelter locally but had to close it due to hurricane damage sustained in the early 2000s. In the meantime, SafeSpace has continued to provide numerous services and outreach to adult victims and their children here in the county. Those seeking emergency shelter, however, had to travel to Martin County.
“SafeSpace was originally founded in Indian River County in 1979, and we are immensely grateful to the various community funders and donors who supported the expansion of our programs to now include a 19-bed emergency shelter to service area residents,” said SafeSpace CEO Dr. Teresa Albizu. “The unfortunate reality is that the COVID pandemic is creating an insidious rise in the incidence of domestic violence, and SafeSpace is committed to providing both residential and non-residential services to the hundreds of victims of domestic violence and their children who deserve to live a life free from violence.”
The shelter is made possible through the generous support of the Johns Island Foundation, Indian River Community Foundation, Impact 100 Indian River, Johns Island Community Service League, and the Indian River Club Community Association, Gabby Petito Foundation, along with donations from individuals.
However, it won’t open until it is adequately staffed. The Director of Operations at SafeSpace is actively setting up the team required to service the emergency shelter residents during the next four weeks.
Due to the nature of the shelter, its location remains confidential. Those seeking help are encouraged to call the SafeSpace hotline at (772) 288-7023. Staff will be able to assess the situation by evaluating the caller’s immediate safety and need for medical attention. Staff also help develop safety and escape plans, determine the need for law enforcement assistance, and determine eligibility for shelter and outreach services.
In the U.S., one in three women and one in four men have experienced a form of intimate partner violence. On average, four women are killed every day at the hand of their romantic partners. And more than 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year.
SafeSpace works to empower those in unsafe domestic situations, providing intervention, prevention, and advocacy services.
The organization operates emergency shelters – one in Martin County and the one soon-to-open in Indian River – a 24-hour hotline, adult education and counseling programs, shelter support groups, children’s shelter programs, youth outreach prevention programs, community, and professional programs, outreach advocate services, a child protection program, an injunction for protection program, an economic justice empowerment program, and event transportation.
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SafeSpace also has an InVest – Intimate Violence Enhanced Service Team – a partnership of advocates and local law enforcement agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, that works to identify those who are at high risk for lethality and provide them with intensive service management and accountability.
To that end, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is pursuing grant funding to establish a position tasked solely with handling domestic violence cases and providing support. The agency also has two employees who serve on SafeSpace’s board of directors. The Sheriff’s Office also participates in SafeSpace events, including the annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes.
SafeSpace, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, is the only state-certified domestic violence center saving lives 24/7 and preventing domestic violence throughout the Treasure Coast of Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie counties. It is the local area expert in providing domestic violence services and offers a safe haven to victims and their children as they seek refuge from physical and emotional abuse.
Call SafeSpace’s hotline at (772) 288-7023.
For more information about SafeSpace, visit www.SafeSpaceFL.org or call the administration number (772) 223-2399.
Want to work at the emergency shelter?
Current open positions include a Full-Time Adult Advocate, Full-time Child Advocate, and Full and Part-Time Assistant Advocates. For more information, contact the HR Manager, Sharon Stagner at [email protected], or via phone at 772-223-2399.
Want to Help?
The emergency shelter has several needs as follows. Those wishing to donate may coordinate with SafeSpace by calling the administrative number (772) 223-2399.
Items they will need
- Personal Care Items: Shampoo and conditioner – including ethnic products, Deodorant, Hand soap, Razors, Feminine hygiene products, Lotions, Hairbrushes and combs, and Lice kits
- Masks, Hand sanitizer, and Gloves
- Kitchen Items: Cutlery including forks and spoons and Kitchenware including can openers, big bowls, pitchers, pots and pans
- Food Items: Peanut butter and jelly and kids snacks
- Children’s Items: Highchairs, Strollers – especially double strollers, Infant and toddler car seats, DVDs, Bassinets for co-sleeping, Baby and toddler bottles and cups, Infant tubs
- Baby supplies: food and formula, diapers and wipes, diaper bags, and pull-ups sizes 3T-5T
- Clothing including women’s socks and maternity items
- Bathroom items such as shower curtains, rugs, accessories, and towels
- Cleaning supplies: bleach, floor cleaners, window/mirror cleaner, laundry detergent, dryer sheets, cleaning spray and wipes, and air fresheners
- Arts and crafts supplies including paints and canvases, cork boards, and display boards
- And other miscellaneous items such as Pillows, DVD players, Umbrellas and ponchos, Adult bicycles and locks and children’s helmets, and gift cards for gas, Walmart, Walgreens, Publix, and Visa/Mastercard