contentmentIssue 26

Safe Haven


By Jacqui D. Sinarle

Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus has much more to offer local residents than many people realize.

In addition to emergency shelter, Haven provides all kinds of valuable programs to assist people whose lives are affected by domestic or sexual abuse.

May Rico, Executive Director
May Rico, Executive Director

“People tend to think of us as a shelter for battered women, but shelter clients are only about 10 percent of the people we serve,” explained May Rico, Haven’s executive director. “Most of our services are provided to non-residential clients who we assist with safety planning, crisis intervention, children’s programs, and other resources.”

The organization’s supportive services are designed to aid victims in crisis following a traumatic incident and include 24-hour trauma response, case management to assist in developing personal goals toward a violence-free life, counseling, and support groups.

Haven has offices for non-residential services in Modesto and Turlock and an emergency shelter. Staff are available for assistance at additional locations throughout the county, including the Stanislaus Family Justice Center; California State University, Stanislaus; and the Stanislaus County’s Community Services Agency, and Haven is currently partnering with the Family Justice Center and the City of Turlock to open a transitional house for survivors of human trafficking.

“We are the only agency in Stanislaus County that is solely focused on the issue of domestic and sexual abuse,” Rico said. “Our mission is societal change. Beyond being a social services agency, we are committed to identifying the things in our culture that support the occurrence of violence and to mobilizing people in our community to make the necessary changes to prevent it.”

While the organization was created in the 1970s in an effort to reduce violence toward women, Haven’s services are available to the entire population.

Last year, Haven assisted more than 2,500 survivors of sexual and domestic abuse, including about 400 children; 3.5 percent of the adults that were served identified themselves as men.

“As a private nonprofit organization that is not affiliated with the county or any arm of the judicial system, Haven does not have the same client restrictions that other community services may have,” Rico explained.

“We help all survivors of domestic and sexual abuse regardless of gender and gender identity, immigration status, sexual orientation, or whether they are planning to leave their current relationships,” Rico said. “We offer assistance to everyone, and we don’t want people who need help to screen themselves out.”

Haven continually enhances its services with funding from a variety of donations and grants. A recent donation from Gallo Winery enabled Haven to increase client privacy in its 23-bed emergency shelter, while a grant from Red Rover Foundation funded construction of kennels so the shelter can accommodate clients’ dogs and cats. Last year, Haven collaborated with local high schools to initiate a youth-led program to prevent adolescent relationship abuse.

“We now have a case manager to support victims of human trafficking who have experienced sexual exploitation, and new grants will soon enable us to provide more support with transitional and permanent housing assistance, including financial support,” Rico added.

Haven accepts both donations of money and time. The organization also welcomes support for its Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser—scheduled for Apr. 29, 2017, the unique event involves men walking for a full mile in women’s high-heeled shoes!

“We invite anyone who is interested in learning about Haven or in supporting our services to contact us for a Beyond Shelter Tour and experience the work we do in an interactive way,” Rico added.

For more information about Haven, visit to request a beyond shelter tour, call Haven at 209-524-4331 and ask for Denise, or email [email protected].

Previous post

Yosemite National Park

Next post

'Tis the Season for a Spa Day