Safe Haven of Northeast Florida is a non-profit organization in the process of raising funds to open a center in Macclenny, FL, in an effort to aid abused and under-privileged children. Having first-hand knowledge of how the system works actually shows us how broken the system truly is. We are in the process of adopting six children due to the abusive home they lived in, and it has taken us three years and many court dates to get to where we are now. This is why we at Safe Haven and Stop Our Children’s Pain feel it is so important for the child abuse laws to be changed and for a shelter to be established. We need our children to feel safe, secure and loved. The center will initially be focused on providing group and individual counseling with the hope of developing it into a transitional home for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. We intend to include a clothes closet and food pantry, but we need donations in the form of cash, clothing (preferably dress clothes), food, toys and office furniture in order to make this happen.
In addition to opening this center, we are also working on getting laws changed and passed to make it tougher and stricter on convicted abusers. The first law in progress states that if you kill a child, you get life in prison without a plea deal. The primary reason we are starting with this law specifically is because there have been two recent cases in Duval County where individuals have murdered children and received a plea deal. One individual killed a 22-month-old child and received 25 years with a portion of that being credited for time served while awaiting trial. In addition, he will only be required to serve 85 percent of the remaining time, as he will receive credit for good behavior. The second individual received 10 years with 1,087 days credited for time served while waiting for trial, and he will also only serve 85 percent of the remaining time. Tracie Davis, House of Representative District 13 for the state of Florida, is assisting in getting the first law passed. Our children deserve to be in a happy, healthy and safe environment.
How You Can Help
Motorcycle club Grey Bonz Riding Association has joined forces with Safe Haven and Stop Our Children’s Pain to help abused and neglected children feel safer. Please join us for a Halloween costume party and masquerade ball at the Crooked Rooster Brewery in Macclenny, FL on October 14 to benefit Safe Haven. Tickets are on sale now for $25 per person or $40 per couple and include a barbecue dinner, live music, 50/50 raffle and costume contest. For more information on our upcoming events and fundraisers, please like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Instagram and Twitter. We will stand and fight for the children until we can no longer stand, and then we will sit and continue to fight for them.
About the Author
Kathy Swafford is the director of Safe Haven of NE FL and Stop Our Children’s Pain, a non-profit organization committed to the health and wellbeing of children suffering from child abuse.