Kathy Beebe, executive director or HAVEN, Business NH Magazine's Nonprofit of the Year. PHOTO: Christine Carignan
Since the merger of two smaller Seacoast agencies in 2015 to form HAVEN Violence Prevention and Support Services, the organization has been able to build its capacity and expand the services it provides to survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse. Almost 8 years later, HAVEN’s annual budget has grown by $1.5 million, and it is now the largest violence prevention and support services agency in NH, covering all of Strafford County and most of Rockingham County. It is now assisting more than 4,000 people annually. “We’re still only reaching a portion of the community who could benefit from our services,” says Executive Director Kathy Beebe.
Located in Portsmouth with offices in Epping and Rochester, HAVEN provides temporary emergency housing for survivors until they find safe permanent housing. HAVEN’s 24/7 client services include information and referral services; a 24-hour confidential crisis and support hotline; accompaniment and support at police stations, emergency rooms, courts and local Child Advocacy Centers; and support groups. HAVEN’s housing program finds housing for survivors to prevent homelessness. For example, HAVEN has partnered with Dover Housing Authority to develop six units of permanent supportive housing for its clients.
And HAVEN provides prevention education to 15,000 K-12 students annually. This year, HAVEN implemented a first-of-its-kind program in NH, the Pathways and Camp Hope program, for children who have experienced trauma, providing them with a summer camp experience as well as year-round mentoring and educational activities.
During the pandemic, HAVEN quickly pivoted, realizing its services and support were needed even more by survivors who now found themselves isolated with their abusers, and with schools and workplaces closed, no respite or clear means of escape, Beebe says.
HAVEN invested in leasing a six-unit apartment building for survivors. HAVEN also included a chat feature on its website so survivors could pretend to be working but communicate with HAVEN without alerting their abuser, Beebe says.
And it does all this with 32 employees and 65 volunteers. Beebe says through it all, her staff demonstrated their dedication and strength. Now HAVEN is seeking to build a new larger facility in Portsmouth and resumed a $14 million capital campaign. “A shelter is more than a roof over your head. It’s overcoming barriers to be safe and free from abuse,” Beebe says.