Henrico County VA
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Safe Harbor Offers Support, Hope

Safe Harbor Public Information Officer Angela Verdery (left) and Community Organizing Manager Stacie Vecchietti(center) join 2010 Volunteer of the Year Lauren Leggett at an awards ceremony.
The Safe Harbor Shelter stands up for victims of domestic violence and is backed by a passionate support staff.

The non-profit shelter offers supportive services for men, women and children who have experienced intimate partner violence. It provides an emergency temporary safe house that’s open to current or past victims of domestic violence 24 hours a day.

Since April 2000, the shelter has been serving people in Henrico County and Metro Richmond.  The organization offers a 24 hour hotline (\287-7877), community counseling, court advocacy, hospital accompaniment and emergency shelter for adults and children.

Safe Harbor has seven volunteer teams for court advocacy, children’s advocacy, house, community outreach, marketing/events, hospital accompaniment and a volunteer engagement team for the community to get involved.  

“We also provide education and outreach about the issue of intimate partner violence and how Safe Harbor services can support those experiencing violence,” said Angela Verdery, public information officer for Safe Harbor.

Last year, the shelter provided more than 2,000 hours of support and group services to individuals and families and offered more than 3,000 nights in their shelters.

The shelter recently formed the Regional Hospital Response Team (RHART) with Hanover Safe Place and the YWCA for survivors who need medical attention at local hospitals. Safe Harbor constantly works with domestic violence victims who seek advice, support and a place to stay while they get back on their feet.
“Safe Harbor serves over 40 survivors of intimate partner violence on an average day,” said Verdery.

There are three other women and children shelters in the area, but Safe Harbor is the only one available for victims in Henrico County. It operates entirely from donations and occasional grants; many of its services are carried out by volunteers. Safe Harbor has trained nearly 4,000 people to provide assistance on topics related to domestic violence and other services it offers.

Currently, the shelter is in desperate need of GRTC bus tickets and gift cards for retail stores such as Kroger, Wal-Mart, Target and CVS to help families with limited resources. “Bus tickets enable our clients to get to work and appointments, while gift cards offer the opportunity to purchase needed items not readily available in our pantry,” Verdery said. The organization also provides a wish list on its website – http://www.safeharborshelter.com – of all the items that it regularly needs.

Lauren Leggett has been volunteering with the shelter since 2008 as an advocate and working the 24-hour hotline. She interacts with clients and callers to provide resources and support. She also works with the Child Advocacy, Community Outreach/Education, and Volunteer Engagement Teams.  

“Helping to stop intimate partner violence has been an interest of mine since college," she said. "In early 2008, I was searching for a new volunteer job, came across Safe Harbor’s call for volunteers and went to the training, which is what really motivated me to work for the agency."

Leggett said that the experience has been wonderful for her, and she's made a number of different connections to members of the community.

“The staff is amazing, full of supportive and friendly people who never treat me as if I’m 'just' a volunteer,” she said.

The shelter is always looking to expand its volunteer base. Volunteers can gain as much from the experience as those they help, Leggett said.

“This commitment to the betterment of lives affected by intimate partner violence helps to strengthen the relationships in our community and build up knowledge to help improve future generations’ interpersonal relationships,” she said.

For details, visit http://www.safeharborshelter.com.


Community

Agencies combine on new entry point to Chickahominy


Canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts soon will have a new access point to the Chickahominy River. VDOT, the James River Association and Henrico County Parks and Recreation are teaming up to establish a new site in Eastern Henrico.

The James River Association negotiated the deal with VDOT to procure official access to the area located just east of I-295 on North Airport Road in Sandston. The site includes a park-and-ride commuter lot bordering the Chickahominy River and has been an unofficial launch site used by paddlers for years. > Read more.

Equestrian clinic planned July 7-8 in Henrico

Henrico equestrians interested in deepening the bond between themselves and their horses have the opportunity to attend a two day clinic, held at Steppin’ High Stables on July 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The clinic, “Become Partners with your Horse,” will be taught by multiple world champion equestrienne Terry Preiser and will focus on how riders and horses can work together to achieve more. > Read more.

Henrico school bus driver honored

The Henrico-based Hephaestus Society recently awarded its first annual community heroes award (the Hephaestus Award) to Hicham Elgharouch (pictured, center) for what it termed his "selfless acts of caring" in his duties as a Henrico County Public Schools bus driver. Henrico County Director of Pupil Transportation Josh Davis, joined Hephaestus Society President Travis Gardner, in presenting the award and an accompanying $1,500 check to Elgharouch last month.

Elgharouch was selected for his clear and demonstrated patience and for his infectious positive attitude, according to the society. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Weekend Top 10


Don’t party too hard on the Fourth because a whole weekend of fun events await! Enjoy a classy date night without the kids at James River Cellars Winery’s second annual Smoke and Vine Festival. Another date night option is at the Richmond Funny Bone, where comedian April Macie will perform all weekend. The kids have their own options this weekend as well. Choose from storytime at Tuckahoe and Twin Hickory libraries or family-oriented karaoke at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House – I hear they have hits from Disney’s “Frozen.” For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

Weekend Top 10


This weekend has something for everyone in your family – whether it’s improv comedy with ComedySportz or West End Comedy, or an inspirational concert from the Ezibu Muntu African Dance Company! Families will also enjoy music, games and crafts at Hidden Creek Park or reading to a therapy dog at Glen Allen Library. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.

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