West takes reins of HAVEN Inc.
Tuesday, October 1 marked a Changing of the Guard of sorts for HAVEN Inc. (Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network) as the reins of the widely revered community staple were passed from retiring Executive Director Judy Woller, to her successor; former assistant director Kim West.
HAVEN joined the community in 1978 and Woller joined HAVEN in 1983 as a volunteer. Judy moved on to become HAVEN’s first executive director in 1989 and has served in that capacity until her retirement, effective last week.
While the role will be new to West in terms of its title; HAVEN, its value to the community and the many services it provides to those in need, are anything but.
After joining HAVEN Inc. in 2014 as a Shelter Advocate, she moved on to the position of Children’s Advocate in 2015. Then last year, Woller began planning for retirement and approached West and another employee to discuss taking over the directorship. Both declined.
”I was honored to be considered, but I really enjoy the one-on-one aspect of working with our clients and I didn’t think I was ready to give that up,” West explains.
“But after some thought and consideration, I saw value in the experience of serving as executive director and decided to accept.” Upon accepting the offer last year, West immediately began working closely with Woller to learn the ropes. Complementing West’s experience with the organization and the various roles within is a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Chicago-based Argosy University. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Walden University, based in Minneapolis.
While very excited to be taking the helm at HAVEN Inc. West does not plan any wholesale changes, but rather strengthen programs and initiatives already in place.
“I will miss working with clients, but I’m looking forward to the challenges and rewards which lie ahead,” she adds with a smile.
Of utmost importance to West is that of strengthening relationships with community stakeholders throughout Lincoln County and pursuing opportunities to establish new relationships.
“Forming and strengthening relationships in the community is very important to the success of the services and programming we offer,” Kim explains.
“By increasing awareness, we aim to expand our reach and assist as many clients as possible who are in need of assistance. Partnering and networking with other community agencies and organizations is vital to increasing that level of awareness. And who knows, maybe we’ll discover other ways of how we can support each other along the way!”
As West alluded to, HAVEN Inc. offers an array of services for abuse victims regardless of gender, including shelter and peer counseling, assistance with civil filings such as divorce and protection orders, employment and housing assistance.
Another key service HAVEN offers which involves consistent, direct contact with community stakeholders is that of community education.
HAVEN has an on-staff educator who consistently visits various community entities and educates on not only services HAVEN provides, but also discusses trend topics such as the cycle of violence, trauma informed care and adverse childhood experiences.
“I am a survivor of adverse childhood experiences,” West adds.”I look forward to taking advantage of my new role to help others understand that the transition to a positive, productive lifestyle is possible with the right support system in place.”
“Empowerment is a wonderful thing.”
For more information, HAVEN Inc. can be reached at (715) 536-1300 or visit them online at http://www.haveninc.org/.