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An Echo Press Editorial: Thank you, Someplace Safe

Purple silhouettes, made each year by A. Sebastian Fox, represent the 24 victims who died at the hand of their abuser last year in Minnesota. Fox, a volunteer at Someplace Safe in Alexandria, was this year’s recipient of the Mayor’s Peace Award. (Al Edenloff / Echo Press)

The Douglas County area is fortunate to have an organization that provides supportive services to survivors of domestic violence, giving them a place to turn for help in what could be the worst period of their lives.

That's Someplace Safe.

The organization will celebrate its 40th anniversary in the coming year. Besides helping victims of abuse, it also works to stop sexual assault, human trafficking, exploitation, harassment, stalking, elder abuse and other crimes.

Approximately 4,000 individuals are provided services at Someplace Safe each year.

In conjunction with its 40-year milestone, Someplace Safe noted that it could not be where it is today without its staff, volunteers, board members, donors, allies and supporters. It also provided some history:

During its humble beginnings in 1979, a small group of dedicated volunteers opened the region's first battered women's shelter located in Fergus Falls, which was incorporated as the Region 4 Council on Domestic Violence. The shelter, better known informally as the Women's Crisis Center, provided emergency housing, advocacy services and support for domestic violence victims and their families.

So much has happened since that time.

In the 1990s, the agency began its expansion, at the request of local communities, opening its first of 10 Community Advocacy Offices throughout West Central Minnesota that includes Alexandria. These community-based offices provided domestic violence victims with increased access to services in their own community, without having to travel (sometimes hours) to Fergus Falls. In 1993, the first of five Parenting Time Centers (PTC) opened in Fergus Falls, allowing children to have safe and conflict-free access to parents.

In 2001, the agency began offering services for victims and survivors of sexual violence, followed by expanded services to all victims of crimes (elder abuse, stalking, theft, harassment, etc.) in 2005. In 2003, the agency changed its name to Someplace Safe and adopted an updated mission statement to better reflect its expanded programming and services for all victims and survivors of crime.

In 2010, Someplace Safe opened its first Thrift Store in Alexandria, followed by a second store in Morris, four years later. The goals of the stores remain the same today as when they first opened: To provide crucial clothing, furniture and household items to victims and families starting over.

In 2012, Someplace Safe closed its regional battered women's shelter, transitioning these services to its STEPS program. STEPS expanded the agency's emergency hotel safe housing program, enabling victims and families affected by domestic violence to remain in their local community, attend school, continue to work and remain with their local support systems.

That same year, Someplace Safe began offering specific services to victims of human trafficking and opened its 10th Community Advocacy Office in Wadena County.

The agency also began targeted advocacy services for sexually exploited and at-risk youth in 2015 through Minnesota's Safe Harbor initiative. The following year, Someplace Safe began housing a Safe Harbor Regional Navigator, who serves as an expert on sexually exploited, trafficked, and at-risk youth for local communities, and is the main point of contact for training, information, referrals and protocol implementation throughout 19 Minnesota counties.

Sheila Korby, executive director of Someplace Safe stated, "Someplace Safe's dedicated staff and volunteers have assisted tens of thousands of survivors of crime through the past 40 years. ...To every individual who supported Someplace Safe over the past four decades — thank you. Your tireless efforts will help us to continue spreading safety, options, and hope to local victims, survivors, families, and community members for generations to come."

To learn more about Someplace Safe and its 40th Anniversary, visit www.someplacesafe.info. Residents can also donate to the organization by going to the website. In addition to giving monetary gifts, residents can donate items, volunteer or "adopt" local families going through difficult times by providing clothing or other gifts.

Someplace Safe has been helping others for four decades. Return the favor by showing your support this holiday season.

Al Edenloff

Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  

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