The Hope Haven Women’s Shelter in Lac La Biche is celebrating 25 years in the community today with a barbecue from 2 to 5.
“We’re looking forward to the community coming out and celebrating with us,” says Executive Director Cassie Putnam.”This shelter was created by members of our community. It’s been greatly supported over the years and we’re excited about celebrating that partnership and the fact that a small like this has a great resource.”
Putnam has been with the shelter for most of its existence but unfortunately has not seen demand for its services die down. Quite the opposite in fact. “The need grew to the point where we built a new shelter in 2004 and then doubled its size and capacity in 2011. Unfortunately, need has continued to grow as people are more aware that services and supports are available to them.” The shelter now also has satellite offices in Heart Lake First Nation, Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Kikino Metis Settlement and Buffalo Metis Settlement.
She adds that the shelter offers a wide variety of services, “People might think the basics are just a place to stay. That’s our core business. While those people are here, we try to meet all of their basic needs. Food, emergency clothing, emergency transportation for example… we do a lot of outreach work. We’ll work with people in the community who don’t come to the shelter but need our services and support, and we do public ed work out in the schools.”
Over its 25 years, the shelter has had many success stories. “I was just in contact with a mom and four boys who spent a fair amount of time with us… and just touched base with her to see how well her kids are doing. She’s going to school and all her kids are going to school and are in after school activities. It’s great to hear what a difference we made in their life.”
The shelter is right next to the hospital. Paving crews are on the street today but the shelter is trying to get them to come back another day.