BOZEMAN — For more than 40 years, Haven has helped domestic violence victims not only survive but thrive. Now, during the pandemic, Haven has been called on more than ever. And the organization that has changed the stigma around domestic violence is ready to expand.
“I sat at work one Thursday morning and Googled battered women - Bozeman and Haven’s website was the first website to come up," explains survivor LeaAnne Harbour.
Harbour knows first hand how much Haven’s resources are needed in this community.
"I went and picked my kids up from school, and we went to Haven and sat in the office and waited for the police to file the restraining order and stayed at Haven for about a month and then got an apartment and started rebuilding our life," she said.
And she also knows how much an expansion is needed.
“There were way too many people living at the Haven shelter at the time," said Harbour. "I would definitely say a bigger shelter is needed. I know that there have been people that haven't been able to stay at Haven because there hasn’t been room or they’ve had to be put up in hotels.”
Planning for the expansion has been in the works for years, and now it’s time for the next step.
“Now we are in the phase of accepting bids from subcontractors, and so those are going to our general contractor Martel Construction,” said Haven Executive Director Erica Coyle.
Bids will be accepted until April 8th and then shortly after that, construction will begin.
"One in five people will experience this type of violence at some point in their lifetime, so when we’re applying those numbers to our service area, which is Gallatin County, we’re looking at well over 20,000 people who might someday contact Haven for support," said Coyle.
Demands for the shelter increased by 1,000 percent in May 2020 from the previous year, and officials tell us other than that numbers the biggest change the shelter has seen is the complexity of assistance residents are needing.
If you’d like to be a part of Haven’s success story, there are still so many ways you can do that, from donating funds to just being a source of support for a survivor.