The loss of the federal grant accounts for 41 percent of his budget

Earlier this month, Green Gables Haven Community Shelter unexpectedly lost a federal grant of $ 210,000, which is 41 percent of its annual budget.

The shelter’s manager Janie Bergeron and board chairwoman Stephanie Fekkes said they were shocked by the news.

“I don’t know why we didn’t get it,” said Bergeron. “There is no explanation – and I asked.”

She said the grant was critical to the shelter’s ability to meet the needs of domestic violence victims in Barry County.

“With this scholarship, my dedicated employees were able to be at the shelter 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, including public holidays,” said Bergeron. “… This grant was paid for legal services that saved clients from losing everything, [and] helped pay for the necessary advice.

“This scholarship cost so much,” she continued. “It has enabled us to help the most vulnerable in our community, thereby helping our community to be stronger, safer and happier.”

The shelter has received around $ 210,000 a year since 2017, Bergeron said. Recently the grant became competitive, with many domestic violence shelters competing for the same allotments, but Bergeron said her conversations with state officials led her to believe there would be enough money to keep Green Gables funding for the foreseeable future .

Bergeron and Fekkes said they were confident they would receive the grant based on the number of people the shelter has been and continues to care for in more than 17 years.

“Green Gables Haven is essential to this community,” said Bergeron. “We have helped over 2,154 people, 833 of them children, to get out of abusive relationships.”

By the end of August in 2021, Green Gables had served 55 adults and 11 children, Bergeron said.

“It is amazing to us that if we serve so many people and our needs are so great, we would lose the money,” said Fekkes.

Green Gables serves a higher number of people and on a lower budget when compared to the general population than many other properties that have applied for the grant, she added.

Fekkes said part of the problem may be that the state is viewing Barry County as being cared for by the Calhoun County’s shelters.

“They will not allow us to split off from Calhoun County and form a separate entity because the state says we are within their territory,” she said.

But Fekkes said it was not possible for Barry County residents to go to a Battle Creek animal shelter, and that is one of the reasons community leaders here decided to start Green Gables Haven 18 years ago.

“Barry County residents didn’t want to go to Calhoun County for services,” said Fekkes. “It was people from rural areas who went to an urban area, it was children who left their schools, which is their only consolation when their lives are in ruins.”

“We are taking victims and families … away from their own secure connection because they are now leaving Barry County,” she added. “We’re taking away their medical staff, I mean everything they know … and we found out that there were maybe two or three people a year if we were lucky [going to Calhoun County.]”

This year’s scholarship has already been decided and Green Gables cannot appeal the decision, but Bergeron said she will keep trying in the future.

“I will continue to apply for this scholarship annually,” said Bergeron. “I do not give up.”

However, she worries about what the loss of funding could mean for the shelter, especially if it can’t get the grant back.

“I am concerned about domestic violence victims, our current customers and those who will seek help in the future,” said Bergeron. “In my 14 years here, so many people have approached me and said, ‘I wish you were here when I needed help’ or ‘Green Gables Haven saved my life’ … is not here.”

In the last few weeks local organizations have become active to help the shelter.

The Barry Community Foundation donated $ 125,000 to help Green Gables and Barry County United Way donated an additional $ 25,000 to help the shelter fill the funding gap.

“The Barry County United Way Board of Directors and Allocations Committee has supported Green Gables Haven since the doors opened,” said Lani Forbes, executive director of United Way. “Green Gables Haven is an integral part of Barry County’s emergency shelter.”

“Green Gables Haven is a unique resource for Barry County,” added United Way Chairman Matt Goebel. “Our donors are very willing to help those in need cope with domestic violence. Keeping their doors open is paramount to the safety and success of many families. “

“Wonderful, beautiful Barry County wraps its arms around us and helps us,” said Fekkes. “You have to love this community because when you need to, there always seem to be people who can step in and meet an immediate need.”

Bergeron said funding from the Barry Community Foundation and United Way is a temporary association to keep the shelter open until a long-term solution can be found.

“We can’t hold out if the patch isn’t fixed,” said Bergeron.

In the meantime, the shelter is looking for other funding opportunities and is planning fundraising drives for later this year.

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