The Mitchell Area Safehouse is enlisting the help of other local groups to help streamline the process by which items donated by the public are stored and distributed to its clients.
Nancy Wietgrefe, executive director for the Mitchell Area Safehouse, said the organization will now direct the public’s donation of items like clothing and furniture to other organizations such as Goodwill, Sunshine Thrift and the Salvation Army in an effort to better serve the women and children who rely on its services.
The effort will help relieve the Safehouse of a space crunch at its location at 1809 N. Wisconsin St. by encouraging the public to donate those particular types of items to one of the other three entities. Those groups will then process, clean and display the items as necessary and allow for the purchase of those items by clients of the Mitchell Area Safehouse through a voucher system.
“It’s a new collaboration project that we’ve devised. Rather than trying to find space at the Safehouse, because we’re full of clients, we contacted (the three other organizations),” Wietgrefe said. “They’ll take the donations, they’ll sort and arrange them and make sure they’re clean and appropriate.”
The new partner organizations not only have the space, but the experience to help make that a reality, she said.
“They have the space and they know how to display it,” Wietgrefe said. “That allows us to do what we do best — focus on our clients’ needs.”
Richard Vavra, manager of Goodwill in Mitchell, said the Mitchell Area Safehouse and Goodwill share a similar desire to help those in need.
“We’ve worked with (the Safehouse) through the years they’ve been here, and when they get overwhelmed with things they’ll bring stuff out, or if they have individuals with a need they’ll call us,” Vavra said.
The arrangement is a positive for everyone, especially those served by the Mitchell Area Safehouse.
“There’s no downside. You want these folks to get a stand on things, and to know that there’s somebody out there to help them out,” Vavra said.
Wietgrefe said donations from the public are vital to the smooth operation of the Mitchell Area Safehouse, which was established in 1984 and has a primary goal to provide emergency and transitional housing for adult survivors and their children escaping domestic violent or sexual assault, according to the organization website.
Safehouse clients will be able to use a voucher to purchase items that fit their clothing size and taste, Wietgrefe said.
The new arrangement will provide a more empowering experience to the people who are attempting to start their lives over in the face often traumatic experiences, Wietgrefe said.
“It’s crucial. When you are forced to flee and have literally the clothes on your back, to be able to go somewhere and pick the items you want, then you know the community supports you,” Wietgrefe said. “We want them to be able to get to a safe place and get a fresh start. These agencies aren’t going to look down on you in any way.”
Ashley Hobbs, development director for the Mitchell Area Safehouse, stressed that the organization is extremely grateful for all the public support over the years and hopes that they will continue to support the group in the future. While clothes and furniture may be directed to one of the new partners, Hobbs said there was still a need for direct donations of smaller day-to-day items that can be used for those staying with the organization.
“Diapers, women products, paper towels, batteries, gift cards for gas to get them to a safe location, things like that we can use to serve people in the shelter,” Hobbs said. “We make a package of items for a couple of weeks’ worth so they can get established with WIC and the food pantry, so we (still) need those day-to-day operational items.”
Those direct donation items are not always covered by grants, Hobbs said, and the organization is always grateful for monetary donations.
Hobbs said there is a consistent need. The Mitchell Area Safehouse sheltered 169 women and children last year, Hobbs said, and took 887 crisis hotline calls. The group assisted with 34 protection orders and assisted 88 women with housing, a program where the group pays the utilities for the first few months after a client has moved to a new location.
The Safehouse serves residents in Davison, Aurora, Hanson, Sanborn, Douglas, Jerauld, Hutchinson and Miner counties.
“It’s about a 50-mile radius around us,” Hobbs said.
The new arrangement started earlier this month and Wietgrefe said she is looking forward to the benefits it provides to those who need help. The Mitchell-area community has already been generous over the years, and she said she hopes they will embrace the new donation system and continue to support vital community service.
“That’s the beauty of living in the Midwest. People want to help,” Wietgrefe said.
More information can be found at the Mitchell Area Safehouse website at mitchellareasafehouse.org or by calling the business line at 605-996-6622.