Safe Passage Marks 20 Years Serving Domestic Violence Victims In Southeast Indiana

Posted On December 20, 2017

Press release from Safe Passage, Inc.

In honor of their 20th year, Safe Passage recognized four groups at their fundraiser event Dec. 2.  Left, Council members Ron Decker and Mark Horstman represented Ripley County, and received the local government support award; John Spence, owner of several Anytime Fitness centers, received the Champion of 2017 award; Safe Passage Executive Director Jane Yorn; Julie Keene,  VP of Physician Services at Margaret Mary Health, represented the hospital to receive the business award; and Leacarol and Jerry Bennett were honored as long-time volunteers for Safe Passage. Photo provided.

(Batesville, Ind.) – In 1997, a few Batesville area women gathered around a kitchen table and brainstormed on how to support a friend in a domestic violence environment. They soon learned there was no local help available–no shelter, no support services–and got to work. That was the beginning of Safe Passage. What started with a toll-free crisis line has evolved into a full fledged shelter and victim services provider for six counties in southeast Indiana. In 20 years, Safe Passage has helped over 12,000 victims and their children exit to a safe environment.

“It’s not something we can do alone. We need many hands, from county and business leaders to individual donors, to show our neediest community residents we care, that they are loved, and deserve a better life, free from violence,” said Jane Yorn, Executive Director and a founder of Safe Passage.

To mark their 20 year history, Safe Passage recognized two businesses, one organization and two individuals for outstanding support at their major fundraiser ‘We Help. We Heal. We Hope.” on Dec. 2 at Walhill Farm. Margaret Mary Health was honored as the business supporter;  Ripley County Government for local government/civic organization; and for individual volunteers, Leacarol and Jerry Bennett.  In presenting these awards , Yorn noted that they have all been consistent with their support or investment to the nonprofit organization.

The Bennetts began volunteering 17 years ago; Leacarol has scrubbed walls in preparation of the shelter opening in 2004 and fills in for administrative staff and volunteers at special events. Jerry has been the leader behind the Hands and Wheels ministry which provides moving help to clients as they start over.

Margaret Mary Health embraced Safe Passage as a community investment from the very beginning, providing important seed money to grow programs. Several team members have served on the board, including Trish Hunter as current president. Yorn also commented that Geralyn Litzinger and Tracy Dwenger are the creators behind the beautiful ambiance of the annual event at Walhill.

Ripley County Government has provided consistent and generous financial support for services that not only provide for local residents in need, but help Safe Passage leverage other governmental funds. Yorn noted that with the shelter located in Ripley County, the greatest number of individuals served come from the county.

“These honorees are representatives of the foundation that Safe Passage has been built on. As this agency continues to grow, we need new supporters,” she noted at the event. In awarding the Champion of the Year plaque to Anytime Fitness, Yorn commented,” John Spence and Anytime Fitness have shown unmatched support and partnership in the mission of Safe Passage. The Bash Before the Stash, held in Lawrenceburg each June since 2015 and sponsored by Anytime Fitness, has raised more than $99,000 to benefit the life-saving work of Safe Passage,” she told the crowd. Spence, and several members of the local AF team were present and thus recognized.

Mark Giesting served as emcee for the Safe Passage event and Haley Begay, Miss Indiana 2017, was one of the speakers. Her platform is domestic violence. Begay is 19 and from Pittsboro, Indiana. Photo provided.

The fifth annual “ We Help. We Heal. We Hope.” brunch fundraiser sold out and raised a record amount for Safe Passage. The fundraiser is unique in that businesses/organizations or individuals design the 33 table tops, providing a visual delight for the guests. Mark Giesting served as emcee and as part of the program, he spoke from the experience his sister had, sharing how important it is to be supportive to such victims. He also was grateful for the victim assistance and Domestic Violence education Safe Passage provided.

The nonprofit receives about 70 percent of its funds from federal and state sources; the rest is through private donations, grants and special fundraisers like this event.

During the Dec. 2 program, Safe Passage recognized the six major fundraisers, each donating $5000, including; MainSource, Margaret Mary Health, Hillenbrand-Batesville Casket, William H. and Martha A Hillenbrand Foundation, Anytime Fitness and In memory of Ron Fledderman. Enhanced Telecommunications and Maxwell Construction were visionary sponsors, contributing $3500 each. In all, there were 42 sponsors donating at various levels to the fundraiser.  Yorn said, “We are truly grateful for the support of these generous sponsors, plus over 100 local raffle donors, the 300+ attendees, the table designers and the table captains. In this season of giving, it’s heartwarming to see how the community steps up to see that all their residents have the chance to lead a healthy, violence-free life.”

Safe Passage is a 501c3 organization, with a shelter based in Batesville and serving six counties, Ripley, Franklin, Jefferson, Dearborn, Ohio and Switzerland. The toll-free helpline is 1 877-733-1990.