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North Shore Horizons and New Beginnings Program – Holistically Helping Victims of Domestic Violence

Some articles are easier to write than oth­ers. This one was a bit tougher. There are sad, scary, and dangerous situations in this world that any of us can find ourselves in. There are times in crisis where any of us can feel alone and helpless. In escalated situations, some may have nowhere to go to feel safe. None of this is easy to write about, albeit important.

But where there is darkness, most often, there is also light. New Horizons and New Beginnings, a non-profit located in Two Har­bors, is a bright beacon of hope for those in need.

North Shore Horizons was born from a dream of the executive director and the board of directors to provide housing specific to as­sist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It was formed in 1980 and received the non-profit status in 1981. At that time, in order to offer subsidized housing, there were some rules for Section 8 that wouldn’t allow for the organization to be specific to only vic­tims of domestic violence.

The focus shifted to assisting with long-term homelessness (which can go hand in hand with domestic violence and sexual as­sault), but North Shore Horizons was not just a place to stay. There was a component that included supportive housing services. By providing case management, residents of North Shore Horizons were able to take part in educational programs, including training to find employment, to become more inde­pendent.

Then, about four years ago, domestic vio­lence agencies were restricted from using the HUD database to offer services because it was federally determined not secure enough to keep abusers from finding the victim. A new database was created to be more secure, but the initial cost to use the database is $20,000 and the yearly subscription is $10,000. For large organizations, this cost may be more re­alistic, but for North Shore Horizons, the six units wouldn’t cover the costs.

Restructuring the acceptance program al­lowed for the organization to keep the hous­ing available to those who are more regional, not just the first person on the list for HUD. People who have local ties also have the po­tential to have more of a social support sys­tem in the area. “We know we’re more suc­cessful working with those who have other connections within the community,” said Jean Sewell, Executive Director of North Shore Horizons.

North Shore Horizons charges 30% of res­ident’s income for rent and other funding comes from the community and local foun­dations who “keep the lights on and the water running,” according to Jean.

With all the changes, some things remain the same. The amount of assis­tance provided to the residents helps to ensure they are support­ed holistically. The New Begin­nings program is a requirement to stay at North Shore Horizons. Kate Cobbs, New Beginnings Pro­gram Lead, de­scribed the three-part program to me.

The first piece is a weekly meet­ing with their case manager (usually Kate), to go over goals, wants, and needs. Some residents may need assistance with employment or securing a vehicle. The second part of the program is a support group that meets weekly (Wednesdays at 6 PM). This meeting is open to the public. “We love to have as many people who can fit in our conference room. More people make a bet­ter group. It’s called Stronger Together, and it’s for anyone who has experienced harm in a relationship,” said Kate.(Note: The North Shore Horizons building is complete­ly secure. Guests need to have a background check.)

The third part of the program is periodic ed­ucational classes. One example is a job skills clinic where residents learned about resumes, applications, and what to wear to an inter­view. Classes are tailored to assist in building confidence and gaining independence. There is also assistance for victims to file restraining orders, arrange supervised vis­itation, zoom hearings, and more than I can mention here.

The staff of the program is small (and mighty), and volunteers are always ap­preciated. As the units are fully furnished, house­hold items are also greatly ap­preciated. In this post(ish) covid world, support to the organization is especially needed. I was surprised to learn that there was a decrease in those reaching out for help during the pandemic, perhaps be­cause there wasn’t a safe time to do so. “Ev­eryone is getting back to normalcy and ready to make changes they want to make in their lives,” said Jean.

As I went over all the good things that North Shore Horizons and New Beginnings do for the community, I was able to get roll­ing on the writing of this piece. Jean and Kate’s passion for helping people and for the program was uplifting and inspiring. If you would like to learn more, reach out to volun­teer, or donate, visit northshorehorizons.org or the org’s Facebook Page. You can also call Kate at 218-834-5924.

Thank you to Jean and Kate for their time and for all they do for those in need!

Feel free to reach out to me at sarahwritesnsj@yahoo.com with any news we can news about!

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