Safe home provides a haven of security and support
Safe home provides a haven of security and support

Safe home provides a haven of security and support

“The pandemic seems to have stirred something up.” 

These are the words that Marieze Tarr, Executive Director of South Okanagan Integrated Services Society, uses to try and explain the overwhelming demand for services at the Cindy Taylor Safe Home. “With each client that transitions out, another client is there to take their place,” she continues. “At one point, we were running at 200% of our capacity, and up until the end of June, overflow rooms in local hotels were needed to house our clients.” 

Cindy Taylor Safe Home is named after a beloved former staff member who passed away in 2020. The home provides short-term shelter and support to women and children fleeing abusive situations. Basic necessities are supplied to clients free of charge, and help is available to connect women escaping violence with legal and financial resources and referrals. In 2022, South Okanagan Integrated Services received a Foundation grant to support the safe home’s operations and programming. 

Marieze leads a small organization with limited resources, and staff members must be “jack of all trades” with respect to their work. The staff’s aim is to provide quality, team-based care, taking the lead of clients in helping connect them with the supports they need.  

Marieze recalls a client in the summer of 2021 who self-referred to the organization. In the beginning, she felt completely unsafe, and sadly had lost touch with her children. The safe home staff slowly built trust with her, following her lead with respect to the services she was prepared to access. Supportive conversations slowly led to counseling and finally, a nine-month residency in the safe home. Now, she has moved into her own residence, has reconnected with one of her daughters and is volunteering at the safe home.  

“The women seeking our services come to us completely broken, and with no self-confidence,” explains Marieze. “It’s extremely gratifying to see them emerge from the safe home with the ability to find employment and live independently. We’re grateful to the Foundation for helping us continue to make these life-changing transitions possible.”