Lauren Wilkie and Safelight Bring Healing to Families is 501c3.Buzz’s take on a charitable organization in the mountains of North Carolina providing life-saving services. Safelight is a comprehensive agency serving survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault and offers a continuum of services helping move clients from crisis to self-sustainability with housing, employment, case management, and counseling.
Here’s what Lauren Wilkie, Safelight’s Executive Director has to share:
A year ago as I was deciding my next career move, a mentor asked me: “what is your passion population?” nonprofits as an employee, consultant, and volunteer I thought this would be an easy question. Yet, it took me nearly a year to answer it completely. I took the time to think through all the experiences I enjoyed and those I did not wish to have again. I was able to find the common threads of working directly with women and children and weave together the vision for my next career move. I knew I would return to my roots working with vulnerable women and children who experience trauma.
These troubling numbers in the U.S. resonated with me: Every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted, Every 73 seconds someone is sexually assaulted, Every 9 minutes a child is sexually assaulted.
These troubling numbers in North Carolina resonated with me: 43.9% of North Carolina women and 19.3% of North Carolina men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
These are statistics we don’t like to consider, yet it is our responsibility to care for each survivor and work to significantly decrease domestic violence and sexual trauma. For these reasons, I have joined the Safelight team. Safelight’s impact continues to be substantial in our community. Having helped more than 37,000 survivors over a span of 37 years, Safelight is a comprehensive nonprofit serving survivors of child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
We offer free, confidential help for adults and children affected by domestic violence, sexual assault or child abuse. Our services include a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, advocacy, counseling, case management, support groups, job training, and much more. Over time, the organization has evolved from a strictly crisis-driven agency to one striving to develop longer-term services addressing community needs such as low-income housing and the unavailability of medical, mental health and substance abuse resources. Safelight does not do this alone as we collaborate with more than two dozen partner agencies and community groups to help our neighbors.
Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting with some of the survivors Safelight has helped over the years. The voice of a 13-year-old echoes in my mind when he said, “I loved living here, can we come back to visit more?”
Many of us take the support of family and friends for granted, but for so many of our survivors, Safelight is the only support they have, their only family.
This year, more than any other year has shined a light on the vulnerable women and children we serve. They are not statistics, they are our neighbors. Because of your generosity as volunteers, donors, and sponsors, Safelight is an essential part of the loving fabric of Henderson County and you are a patch in our quilt.
Thank you for continuing to be part of Safelight. We could not do it without you!
Child Advocacy Center – We help children and their families experiencing abuse or neglect tell their stories in a safe environment. Our trained forensic interviewers are trained to conduct child-friendly neutral interviews with children and teens that have experienced and/or have witnessed of any abuse or neglect. Having the child medical exam and forensic interview during the same appointment reduces further trauma to the child and preserves vital evidence needed for court trials and prosecution, keeping the child off the stand in court. Our onsite physician is specially-trained and children receive a medical exam within days, rather than having to wait weeks for an appointment in another county or at the emergency room. We have case managers who assist and guide families through the process. This includes from the time the child makes the initial disclosure, until the families decide they no longer need services. We bring together a Multidisciplinary Team of experts in medicine, law enforcement, victim advocacy, mental health, and other disciplines to both hold offenders accountable and help children and families heal.
Counseling Center – Safelight provides individual and group counseling free of charge to children, adolescents and adults. Sessions can be in person or remote through telehealth. A variety of support groups are offered for both survivors and nonoffending supports. Safelight’s master’s level, licensed clinicians trained in a variety of modalities to address trauma including: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Motivational Interviewing, Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, Traditional Talk Therapy.
Family Advocacy Center – Safelight empowers, educates, and counsels adult victims in Henderson County with legal and court room advocacy. Professionals from different disciplines work together to provide consolidated and coordinated safety, legal, social, and health services to individuals and families in need. Our FJC also is a resource for community outreach and education throughout Henderson County. This program includes Victim Advocacy for hearings, Filing restraining orders or protection orders, Safety planning, Talking to law enforcement, Legal professionals assisting with legal questions and issues, Case management support with referrals to resources in the community
Job Training – Onsite paid opportunities for survivors in our Dandelion Café, Resale Store and Sewing our World Together providing job training, educational support, and sustainability. Interns work with their job coach to design a clear path to further employment or educational opportunities that will create self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. Teaches interns on the job soft skills such as responsibility, teamwork, time management and communication. This program includes: Onsite safe employment opportunities, Supportive educational environment, Personalized onsite job coaching, Individual job support case management, Strengthens interpersonal skills, Increases financial stability with planning and budgeting, and Builds workforce development within our community.
Emergency Shelter – Safelight provides safe place to rest, heal, and gain support. You are provided with all your basic needs while in shelter which includes food, clothing, and toiletries. Our staff are present 24/7 to answer our hotline, provide support, and ensure that you are always receiving support. Our facility is 40-beds with additional space for cribs/bassinets. While residing in our safe shelter, you access all our programs at Safelight. We provide weekly case management and work hard to make sure you are referred to our amazing community partners so that all your needs can be met.
Prevention & Outreach – Safelight invests in what people in the field of prevention call “primary prevention” programs, we implement programs that target the root causes of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. There is a strong and growing evidence base that tells us we can stop violence, before it happens. We work to change the cultural norms associated with violence and abuse by providing primary prevention education and advocacy. Educating the community is a big part of the solution with the goal of building awareness for prevention and advocacy. Speakers are available upon request to talk with groups, organizations and business.
If you are in crisis or concerned about your safety please call (828) 693-3840.
133 Fifth Avenue West
Hendersonville, NC 28792
E-mail: [email protected]
Response Line: (828) 693-3840
Dandelion: (828) 595-9365
Resale Store: (828) 693-7157
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