WISH LIST: Safe Harbor Support Center asks for financial help

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldDecember 30, 2013 

my friends place wish list safe harbor homeless teens

Daisy Vargas, left, shelter supervisor for My Friends Place, and Karen Kirk-Brockman, executive director of Safe Harbor Support Center, are seen in a room at My Friends Place available to get homeless teens out of the cold, seen reflected in the bedroom window. My Friends Place is in desperate need of money to stay open and it's the only shelter for homeless teens in the area.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Safe Harbor Support Center helps some of the Tri-Cities' most vulnerable -- children struggling to cope with trauma and homeless teens.

And the Kennewick nonprofit could use the community's help to make some building repairs and to keep its shelter program running.

Financial support for the shelter, which has struggled to find sustainable funding, is particularly needed and tops Safe Harbor's holiday wish list.

"A lot of the kids that we serve here do end up calling this place a home, because it's a safety net," said Daisy Vargas, shelter supervisor.

Safe Harbor is the final local nonprofit the Herald is featuring this year as part of the Holiday Wish List series.

Every day during the month of December, the paper published a story on a different charity working to fill a need, from food banks to youth organizations to agencies dedicated to helping animals.

Each of the paper's reporters and photographers contributed to the series, which sought to highlight particular needs and give the community specific ways to help.

The community stepped up in response.

An anonymous donor, for example, worked with the Three Rivers Community Foundation to provide a new van to the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Kennewick.

The center's independent living rehabilitation teacher needed a vehicle to get to clients around the region, and -- as reported on Dec. 4 -- the old van was prone to breakdowns.

An anonymous donor also worked with the Three Rivers foundation to give $10,000 to the Children's Developmental Center, which was featured in the Herald on Dec. 18. The center in Richland works with young children who have developmental delays and challenges.

Some other organizations featured in the series reported help big and small, from yarn for Project Warm-Up, to books for the Children's Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, to about 100 people who signed up for free one-year memberships to help bolster the Franklin County Historical Museum, to $3,000 given to the Cavalcade of Authors by donors Lori and Jeff Wenner.

Safe Harbor Support Center provides support services for children, helping them find ways to cope with traumatic experiences.

It also offers parenting classes and classes for teens and adults dealing with trauma. More than 400 families have been helped there this year.

Safe Harbor's teen shelter, called My Friends Place, sees as many as 15 youths a week for meals, a break from the elements and/or a place to stay the night. It's the only shelter of its kind in Southeast Washington.

The trauma and shelter services are provided in facilities that are next door to each other on North Grant Place. The buildings are aging and could use repair and improvement work, as well as some new appliances to replace ones that are malfunctioning.

The trauma support building needs new carpeting, a white double wall oven and artists willing to provide paint and their labor to create kid-friendly murals on the walls.

The shelter building could use an interior paint job, a stackable washer and dryer and a couch and love seat. A volunteer handyman to help with projects around the campus also would be helpful, Safe Harbor officials said

The nonprofit, which has 15 employees, provides a unique service in the Tri-Cities, officials said. The trauma support work gives kids and families the tools "to deal with all kinds of trauma" and the way it affects their lives in whole, said Karen Kirk-Brockman, executive director.

And My Friends Place provides a safe, caring place for teens with nowhere else to go. "These kids -- if they had an alternate place to be, they would be there," Kirk-Brockman said. "They don't have an alternate home."

To help, call Safe Harbor at 374-4902, mail donations to 1111 N. Grant Place, Kennewick, WA 99336, or go to www.crisis-nursery.org.

-- Reporters Ty Beaver and Geoff Folsom contributed to this story.

-- Sara Schilling: 582-1529; sschilling@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @saraTCHerald

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