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Community

Part three in a three-part series

safe harbor logoSafe Harbor Child Advocacy Center in Fredericksburg provides child abuse victims with a child friendly environment in which professionals from multiple agencies come together to address the child's abuse. In the final part of a three part series, members of the multi-disciplinary team at Safe Harbor and members of Leadership Fredericksburg discuss their cohesive role in the program's continued success.

Since opening its doors in May 2009, Safe Harbor has served over 410 children. With such a successful start to the program, plans for the future have already begun.

"As we grow, we need to grow into a bigger facility," said Gail Perkins, Forensic Nurse at Safe Harbor.

Executive director Pamela Garrett added, "We would ideally like a house-like setting with a yard and a playground. Perhaps a front door and a back door for more privacy when other families are coming in at the same time. But definitely more room."

Currently, Safe Harbor relies on state funding, grants, church donations and fundraisers. However, these sources can at times be unpredictable.

That's where Leadership Fredericksburg comes in.

Susan Spears, Executive Director for Leadership Fredericksburg, explained the purpose of the program:

"Leadership Fredericksburg is a program of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce. The program, in its fifth years, kicks off annually in September and runs for nine months. In a classroom setting, approximately 25 "Fellows" meet monthly to learn in-depth leadership skills. Each Fellow receives a 360 rating assessment, accompanied by an Executive Coaching session, at the beginning of the program. They are also matched with a mentor from the business community for the duration of the program.

"Fellows are divided into teams which will be assigned a project. Each participant will enhance their team-building skills and their community knowledge as they partner with area nonprofits that sponsor the projects."

After submitting an application in the summer of 2011, Safe Harbor was chosen as one of the area nonprofits that would be supported by Leadership Fredericksburg.

In the fall of 2011, a seven-member team of Fellows met with Safe Harbor to discuss what they wanted to accomplish over the nine-month duration.

"We really want to increase the number of volunteers and donations to support Safe Harbor's goal on future expansion," DiEugenio stated.

"The board president (Cheryl Schlesinger) and the executive director (Pamela Garrett) were very certain on what they wanted us to work on and that was to rewrite their mission statement and help them with their strategic plan, specifically the marketing outreach section and the financial plan section," said Heidi DiEugenio, a Fellow in this year's Leadership Fredericksburg graduating class and the director of marketing and social media for Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine.

The team divided up into their areas of expertise; three members were able to tackle the financial section and remaining four members took on the marketing outreach.

"One of the pieces we are really excited about is providing a promotional video. We are so thankful to Melvin Brown from Fredericksburglive.com for donating his services and creating the video for Safe Harbor," DiEugenio said.

The video will be available on the Fredericksburg Parent and Family Magazine web site. It will also be available for use by members of Safe Harbor for educating the public. The video has three goals: 1. Create awareness. 2. Increase volunteers. 3. Increase fundraising.

"We really want to increase the number of volunteers and donations to support Safe Harbor's goal on future expansion," DiEugenio stated.

DiEugenio reflected on her team's overall involvement in the project.

"I think many of us will continue to volunteer or donate our services to Safe Harbor when this is all said and done because we're all big believers in the project. We want to help them succeed in the long run."

Kerry Pinto is a freelance writer living in Stafford with her husband and two children.

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