Foundation helps fund shelter for victims of domestic violence

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Safe Haven Family Shelter of Cheatham County, Tennessee received donations from the A. O. Smith Foundation, helping the shelter open its doors to victims of domestic violence.

“It is such a pleasure to see funds go to local communities and local charities” said Lisa Darnall, manager of human resources in Ashland City. “So many abused women and children have nowhere to go in Cheatham County; this organization will provide, as the name says, a safe haven.”

Safe Haven, a non-profit organization, was founded in 2013 with hopes to help victims of domestic violence in Cheatham County. “This has been the most blessed journey I have ever been on in my life, providing me opportunities to meet great people,” said Kaye Chandler, board member and president of Safe Haven. “I cannot begin to thank you.” 

A close family member of Kaye, Courtney Prince, was a victim of domestic violence and was taken away from her newborn child the day her husband shot her 10 times. Courtney was attempting to get away from her abuser, but tragedy ensued and she succumbed to her wounds. Kaye has since sought out to help women and children who were victims of domestic violence. 

The Cheatham County Police Department received several calls of domestic violence, but had no local shelter to send the victims to. Instead, the victims would be escorted to a shelter in one of the surrounding counties. To Kaye, this was unacceptable. 

One in four women experience domestic violence. 47 million women per year report domestic violence with more than 60 percent of cases not reported, bringing the estimated total to over 100 million women. 

Silent Witness, a program formed to raise awareness and bring about change plastered the county with silhouette cut-outs of lost loved ones of domestic violence. One of those silhouettes was Courtney. Courtney’s silhouette comforts Kaye, it reassures her everything will be okay and encourages her to keep going on with her mission to help others.

After years of paperwork, fundraising and hard work, Kaye was thrilled to announce the lease for a safe house was finally signed on Sept. 18. Shortly after on Oct. 25, Safe Haven board members announced the signed lease of Cheatham County’s first safe house, Courtney’s House, named in memory of Courtney Prince. Courtney’s House opened its doors in February of 2015.

“When they walk in that door at that house, they will have safety, they will have peace of mind, they will have the help and services they need and the hope of a better life and a better future for themselves and their kids,” said Kaye.

The seven bedroom house equipped with a large yard for the children will provide a safe living space for up to 50 people at a time. It will also serve surrounding communities' sister houses with overflow room.

“We do not turn anybody down,” ensured Kaye. “If there is no room, we will find those people the help they need.” 

Courtney’s House will provide counseling, spiritual counseling, medical access, a registered nurse board member, workforce essentials and counseling for the children; providing the families complete access to everything they need to start new lives.

“We step in to say there is life after abuse,” Kaye said.

The future holds continued involvement with Safe Haven, helping the organization provide safety for the community and the victims of domestic violence.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We are so thrilled and overwhelmed from the generosity of A. O. Smith.”