Author: Noah Fromson
Safe Harbor served over 300 children in Allegan and Barry counties in 2018.
ALLEGAN, Mich. — An Allegan County organization that provides services to children who are victims of abuse hopes to expand its reach after receiving a new building from Perrigo.
Representatives from the consumer healthcare company, which operates in Allegan, announced Thursday, Nov. 21, the donation of a former maintenance warehouse to the Safe Harbor Children’s Advocacy Center.
The 6,000 square-foot space is nearly three times the size of the current Safe Harbor building, which has limited the organization’s ability to serve the community, Executive Director Lori Antkoviak said.
“When you only have a limited number of counseling spaces, you can’t provide that many sessions to the kids,” Antkoviak said. “We also can’t provide therapy, medical [exams] and forensic interviews all at the same time, and many times there’s a need for that.”
The new facility, which still requires renovations before it’s usable, was underutilized by Perrigo and needed a home, said Erin Bonovetz, senior vice president of OTC business for Perrigo.
“This donation alone helps us do things that we could never dream of doing for Allegan and Barry counties,” Bonovetz said. “And given Perrigo resides primarily in Allegan County, it’s going to be instrumental in helping the overall community we live and work in.”
In 2018, Safe Harbor served over 300 children in Allegan and Barry counties though the children’s advocacy program and provided counseling to 80 children. The new facility will have more forensic interviewing and therapy rooms and provide more spaces for law enforcement and child protective services agents to work cases.
“We only have one interview room [right now], so it has to serve the younger children and the older children,” said Allegan County Prosecuting Attorney Myrene Koch. “Research has shown that if you can have different rooms geared to different age groups, that is beneficial.”
Perrigo has supported many of Safe Harbor’s programs for 20 years, Antkoviak said.
“When we showed them what we were doing with so little space, they were so willing to participate and help us,” she said. “We will finally be able to do what we really need for the children.”
Safe Harbor still needs to raise $850,000 to renovate the building. The organization is kicking off a fundraising effort, “Lighting the Way,” on Dec. 3 at the new building, located at 102 Brady St.
“I think many community members see the need,” Antkoviak said. “They’ve been touched by child sexual and physical abuse by some way in their homes, families or friends. They realize how important it is for children to get the help they need.”