Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

October 26, 2012

Safe Passage breaks record

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

-- — At the Safe Passage annual meeting, held at Tri-State Artisans Oct. 11, executive director Jane Yorn noted Jaime Mustaine “has been part of the Safe Passage family for a long time. She really stands as a powerful role model for everyone else who comes through our doors.”

Mustaine, the night’s guest speaker, recalled how domestic violence affected her 10 years ago. “I was on the street without a place to go after struggling to escape with my three kids to the emergency room. The last fight, the one that made me realize it was life and death, ... gave me the courage to leave.”

Although outreach services at the Batesville-based facility began in 2001, shelter doors opened three years later, so Mustaine didn’t have Safe Passage as an option. “The kids and I struggled to find a place to sleep for six weeks ... six long weeks with no money, few clothes and only a desire to keep the kids safe.”

Soon she utilized Safe Passage’s counseling services and began the healing process. She also learned life skills and to value herself and set goals. “Ten years ago I never dreamt I would have my college degree, have eight years of experience in corporate America and be standing here as a business ownerî of Tri-State Artisans.

“Back then I believed the words I was told daily (by my abuser): ‘You are nothing and you will never be anything.’  ... Today, I believe if I set my mind to something, nothing will stop me.”

In a year and a half in a bad economy, the Batesville resident grew the gallery from two artists to 39, some of whom teach art classes there. Paying it forward, Mustaine enjoys mentoring Safe Passage families at the 125 E. George St. shop. “Now, not only can I support other artists, but I can show the women who come here with their lives shattered, fearing for what tomorrow may have in store for them (that) there is hope ...”

At Tri-State Artisans, clients can “learn vital job skills, gain a work reference and be in a positive environment,” she told the 30 attendees, with a particularly strong Franklin County contingent. Classes provide a creative outlet  for the clients and children to express their feelings.  She anticipates helping women re-build their lives into ìrewarding, healthy and happy ones.î

After the speech, the director observed, “This is one success story. We have many. We have staff who are passionate about what they do and leadership who want to continue to drive this organization forward.”

Jud McMillin, Brookville, told Yorn, “Thank you for what you do, both from the perspective of (District 68) state representative and attorney .... To be able to refer (clients ) to a place like this is tremendous.”

Before small groups toured the facility, Yorn announced, “We do have almost a full house.” Five of the six bedrooms were full and most of the 24 beds.

Throughout its existence, the nonprofit has provided emergency, residential shelter and programs to nearly 800 individuals, according to the 2011-12 Service Summary. More than 3,400 nonresidential clients have received outreach support services and help through its crisis helpline. Additionally, each year through prevention programs, more than 3,000 southeast Indiana residents are educated about both family and teen dating violence and the devastating effects on its victims.

During the 2011-12 fiscal year, a record 140 individuals were served in the shelter. The average length of stay is 32 days. The report stated, ìIn this one year, the number of residential clients increased by 44 percentî and the number of children by 124 percent. Additionally, 87 families were supported through the nonresidential outreach program.

All clients are provided with court and legal advocacy, counseling, GED support, employment and housing assistance, and assisted with financial and basic living needs.

During the fiscal year, federal funding decreased by as much as 12 percent. The average cost to provide services for a shelter client is $96 per day with only about half of that funded by government sources.

Area supporters may send tax-deductible checks to Safe Passage, P.O. Box 235, Batesville, IN 47006.

There are other ways to aid the center, which serves residents of Ripley, Franklin, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland counties. The list of needed items “just changes daily,” reported the director. Now donated copy paper and stamps would be appreciated. Persons who wish to contribute new or used items may call the facility at 933-1990 to learn what is needed or enlist in volunteer Terri Gardner’s Kindness Network by e-mailing her at tgardner@safepassageinc.org. About 80 citizens receive e-mail blasts when something is wanted. Recently, it took a day to locate three girls’ coats.

Volunteers also are sought to answer phone calls and do other office tasks, transport clients and help with childrenís programs. Persons may sign up by calling the same phone number.

Persons who want Safe Passage updates and upcoming quarterly newsletters may e-mail jyorn@safepassageinc.org.

Debbie Blank can be contacted at 812-934-4343, Ext. 113; or debbie.blank@batesvilleheraldtribune.com.