Harbor House works to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse in Central Florida by providing critical life-saving services to survivors, implementing and advancing best practices, and educating and engaging the community in a united front.
Accomplishments in 2013-2014:
Our strategies for achieving social change are focused on creating a community of active bystanders. To do this, we utilize our core philosophy of Recognize, Respond, Refer (R3), which teaches our community how to recognize domestic abuse, respond to it effectively and refer survivors to safety.
Internally, we use several methods of measurement to identify progress toward our intended impact. These include:
Each survivor receives a survey card every time they work with an advocate, which we use to ensure they feel that they were seen and heard and that they now feel safe and empowered.
From July 2013 through June 2014, the percent of survivors served in shelter, through outreach and through court services reported:
Our evaluation efforts also include a metrics program used to measure the impact of our advocates’ work:
90% of shelter residents will have safe housing when leaving shelter.
95% of callers identified as high lethality will receive a safety plan.
80% of children in shelter will receive child care services.
100% of children in shelter will receive a welcome and discharge session with an advocate.
Rosa never thought that domestic abuse could happen to her until she met her former boyfriend, who mentally and physically tortured her for several years. He was a well-respected man in the community but at home, he terrorized Rosa with his controlling behavior. When Rosa came to Harbor House, she was traumatized and afraid for her life. She had recently lost her job because her former boyfriend stalked her at her place of employment. She was terrified that her ex would find her and kill her. Through safety planning and case management in the emergency shelter, Rosa was able to gain the skills and confidence that she needed to move forward with her life. As a result of living in a safe and stable environment, Rosa recently obtained full time employment at a local bank. She moved into our Transitional Housing program and is saving money to move into her own apartment. She has expressed that she feels much more confident through the encouragement and support of Harbor House.
Sarah was a homeless survivor of domestic abuse who came to the Outreach program having lived in a tent for months. She was unemployed and wanted to work; however, without an address she was unable to obtain the necessary documentation needed for employment. Sarah was referred to the Community Based Housing program. With a stable place to live, she was able to focus on her employment needs. She met regularly with the Community Based Housing Specialist and was provided the following services: safety planning, assistance with obtaining necessary identification, and credit repair through the Financial Empowerment workshops. As a result, Sarah recently obtained full time employment. Sarah is now healthier and her self-esteem has significantly improved. She has expressed an interest in some day volunteering as an advocate for a domestic abuse center and states that she thanks Harbor House for changing her life.
The Leaders of Courage curriculum is designed to educate youth about the dynamics of abusive/unhealthy relationships. Throughout the 9-week program, youth will define abuse and respect, learn skills for effective communication, recognize red flags, bullying behaviors, learn safe bystander intervention, understand gender stereotypes, and create strategies with youth that raise awareness about intimate partner violence to their schools and communities. After attending two groups, a youth participant recognized that she was in an unhealthy relationship. She was no longer in the relationship but he was becoming increasingly aggressive with her. Through the Leaders of Courage program, the woman was able to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. After safety planning with the woman, the advocate has followed up and she continues to attend the groups. She has become a leader among her peers and has become a strong proponent for the success of the Leaders of Courage program.
Harbor House provides professional education about domestic abuse to law enforcement, businesses, health care providers, social services and human resource professionals. This specialized training includes successful ways to deal with survivors and abusers. In addition, the program sheds light on the warning signs to detect if abuse is present in a home situation.
Harbor House staff and trained volunteers facilitate educational presentations to the community at large. These presentations are focused on our core curriculum -- Recognize, Respond and Refer (R3). R3 educates individuals on how to recognize domestic abuse, respond to it effectively and refer survivors to safety. During the last fiscal year, Harbor House held 417 presentations and trained 1,672 individuals.
In 2012, the R3 App was created by Harbor House of Central Florida for its Project Courage initiative and community education training to encourage healthcare professionals and those at risk to Recognize, Respond and Refer (R3) to Domestic Abuse. R3 is the first app tohave information that aids medical professionals in hospitals, doctors' offices and clinics to make appropriate assessments of domestic abuse victims and refer them to resources that can help. No other tool is geared toward both healthcare professionals as well as those at risk.
1,607 First Responders were trained to Recognize, Respond and Refer.
797 Physicians were trained to screen for domestic abuse.
2,673 youth were trained to safely intervene when they see abuse and bullying happen.
The R3 App was a winner in the “Ending Violence @ Home Global App Challenge” and was recognized in the New England Journal of Medicine.
On December 6 2012, The Paws for Peace Kennel opened and welcomed its first pet, a guinea pig, just two days later. Since then 49 dogs, 15 cats, one bird, one guinea pig and one turtle have been residents of the kennel, allowing 43 families to seek safe shelter without having to leave their family pet behind.
Harbor House opened the doors of the Donation Center on December 6, 2012. A multipurpose facility, the center allows Harbor House to bring in large quantities of donations such as cleaning supplies and paper products that are used to run one of the largest domestic abuse programs in the US. Since its opening, $704,166 worth of goods have been donated and invested in our mission.
Carol Wick began her career working with children and families after obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree from Florida State University and her Master’s Degree from Auburn University. She is a licensed therapist and an approved supervisor.
Carol’s first job was providing in home and in school therapy to families in Charlotte, North Carolina. She worked as the Program Director for a grassroots women’s support organization called WomanReach providing support groups and peer counseling to hundreds of women each year.
Carol returned to Florida to accept a position as the Coordinator of the newly formed Collier County Sexual Abuse Taskforce and Treatment Team. There she developed strong working partnerships with all members of the child abuse system from investigation to prosecution to therapeutic treatment of both victims and young offenders.
Fulfilling a need to return to working in gender issues, Carol worked as Social Services Director then as Executive Director of PACE Center for Girls for 16 years. During her time at PACE, she was part of a research team with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency that studied the status and treatment of girls in Florida prisons. She has also been involved in best practices in gender responsive programming and quality assurance in the juvenile justice system. During her tenure, the agency was ranked 1 in quality in the State of Florida on 3 occasions.
Since returning to Orlando and joining Harbor House, Carol has worked to improve community partnerships and engage leaders in social change around domestic abuse issues. Under her leadership, the Harbor House shelter capacity increased 111% with over $5 million in capital improvements including a kennel for pets; Project Courage an innovative community prevention program was launched with astounding first year results; and the first domestic violence screening app, R3, was launched.
Carol has twice been recognized as the Executive Woman of the Year Award in Volusia County and received the Juneteenth Hometown Hero Award for her leadership in the preservation and restoration of the 100 year old African American Rigby School. She has served as President of the Heart of Florida United Way’s Council of Agency Executives, was a United Way Board member, a board member of Florida Executive Women and member of the League of Women Voters. She serves on the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Legislative Agenda Committee and State of Florida CPI redesign committee. Carol is a frequent speaker and trainer and has appeared on national shows such as Dr. G Medical Examiner and Nancy Grace.
Carol had been married to David for 15 years is the mother of a beautiful 11 year old daughter. She volunteers in her free time with her dog JoJo as a certified pet therapy team and is also a Girl Scout leader with a troop of 12 wonderful girls.
Heather Wilkie is the Chief Operating Officer of Harbor House of Central Florida. She holds a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of North Carolina in Asheville. Mrs. Wilkie has been with Harbor House for over eight years, serving as an advocate in the courthouse program and as the legal services manager for four years. During this time, she served as the secretary for the Domestic Violence Task Force and has been a member for seven years. She is very passionate about women’s issues and social justice advocacy. Mrs. Wilkie is also a member of the American Counseling Association serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the Orlando Fringe Festival.
Michelle Brady Palmer is the Chief Development Officer of Harbor House of Central Florida. She holds a Master’s Degree in Business from the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She has over 15 years of successful leadership in the nonprofit and public sectors. She is an active volunteer in community schools, the church and alumnae organizations. In 2001, Michelle had a day named in her honor in the City of Orlando for her service to the community.
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