Drive to Benefit Domestic Violence Survivors is Huge Success

Local 3558 members Niki Whittet and Jen Davey, who work at Safe Haven, watch as the amount of money donated to help them serve domestic violence survivors keeps rising.
Local 3558 members Niki Whittet and Jen Davey, who work at Safe Haven, watch as the amount of money donated to help them serve domestic violence survivors keeps rising.

For several weeks, AFSCME members made blankets out of colorful stacks of fleece, collected shampoo and diapers, and donated money to benefit Safe Haven Shelter and Resource Center in Duluth.

At the Council 5 Annual Convention last week, they continued volunteering to help women and children affected by domestic violence by assembling more than 150 care packages. They made even more blankets, which were stacked so high, they were in danger of toppling.

They donated money and supplies until the very last moments of the Convention, enough to fill four trucks and vans to overflowing.

The final tally to help domestic violence victims and support the Safe Haven workers in AFSCME 3558 who serve them?

  • $12,539.50 in donations
  • More than 150 care packages assembled
  • More than two dozen blankets made
  • 27 hats knitted and donated by five members from AFSCME Union Stitchers that were sold to Convention-goers and added $378 to the total.

Locals held a friendly competition to see who would give the most. Congratulations to Hennepin County Local 34, holding down first place with a total contribution of $1,177! Local 66 comes in second with $791, and Local 3141 takes third with $750.

Volunteers made more than two dozen blankets out of fleece for Safe Haven clients.
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AFSCME Union Stitchers knitted green "pussy" hats inspired by the Women's March and sold them at Convention to members, who wore them proudly. They donated all $378 of the profits to Safe Haven.
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Members grab donated items such as shampoo and deodorant to make up care packages for women dealing with domestic violence, who may flee to safety with nothing but the clothing on their backs.
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“The AFSCME fund drive made me feel part of a team within this union,” says Safe Haven volunteer coordinator Hilary Hintsala. “I feel so supported in the work that I do and know that what we do matters. We are fortunate to be part of AFSCME and feel grateful for all of the funds that were raised for our organization!”

“Giving back is a huge part of our Annual Convention,” Council 5 public affairs director Jennifer Munt explains. “It’s our hope that we can wrap women and children who are victims of domestic violence in the love and care of our membership.”

Safe Haven has a 39-bed shelter and a resource center, which together provide services including support groups, a 24-hour crisis line, legal advocacy, and mentoring for youth.

AFSCME members gathered at Council 5's South St. Paul offices to make blankets several weeks before Convention.
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The shelter is nearly always full year-round, says Niki Whittet, Safe Haven’s youth programming specialist.

“Every 15 seconds a woman is abused by her intimate partner, and one in four women gets abused by her partner a day,” she says.

 “Just to show how prevalent domestic violence is, in Minnesota alone last year, over 70,000 adults used services,” she says. Safe Haven’s resource center served 1,600 women and children, and the shelter served 300 women and 250 children.

A woman named Jenny and her young daughter are two of the people Safe Haven has helped.

“Two years ago, Safe Haven saved our lives,” Jenny says. “My husband was very violent. Me and my 3-year-old escaped from Michigan. Less than a month after we got to Safe Haven, my husband took his own life.

“It if wasn’t for Safe Haven, it wouldn’t have just been my husband – it would have been my whole family that was killed,” she says. “We’re very lucky and very fortunate.”

Jenny says she still attends support groups at the resource center each week.

“Every time I’ve needed support from Safe Haven, countless times, they’ve been there for me again and again,” she says.

“I just want other women to know that services are out there for you,” she says. “If you can just get out the door somehow safely and get to the resource center, get to the shelter, call the police – they’ll get you there – somebody can help you. They’ll keep you safe and give you everything you need.”

Jenny says it’s thanks to the workers at Safe Haven that she and her daughter now have a beautiful - and safe – life in Duluth.