Safe Haven Drop-In Center has evolved into a community resource that fosters personal development, knowledge of self and even skills for the workforce. The group actively raises funds and promotes awareness and outreach so that issues related to addiction, mental wellness and isolation are addressed and supported in practical ways.
“In today’s mental health field, experts are drawing from the Recovery Model which treats and addresses the whole person and doesn’t just focus on managing the symptoms,” stated Senaida Rangel, Mental Health Services Act Coordinator, “It includes helping individuals to overcome challenges and recognizing them as human beings who can overcome any obstacle or trauma.”
Safe Haven is becoming a recognizable name, but the services that they provide are not always clearly understood.
The peer drop-in center has grown since it was established on the patio of Colusa County Behavioral Health in 2008.
The center moved “off campus” to its present location on 131 5th Street, in Colusa, four years ago because they needed more space to adequately provide services and resources for the increasing number of individuals walking through their doors.
Rangel oversees the drop-in center where she proudly describes the growth that Safe Haven has made and credits the program’s structure which is based on what are considered to be the current best practices in the field of mental wellness, personal development and recovery from addiction.
“We focus on what’s best for the client because they are the expert on their recovery since they are the experts on their lives,” stated Rangel. “The participant defines what makes a meaningful life, it isn’t a predetermined standard that they must conform to,” she added.
Safe Haven is peer run, but it also benefits from the added support of Valerie Sterling, Peer Support Specialist, who oversees the day to day operation of the facility and manages the schedule for groups and activities that are offered at the facility during operating hours.
Rangel commented that peer-based centers can provide more natural support than clinical service providers seem to be able to.
“When you have people who have lived experiences giving support to people currently going through a similar experience, they are both more likely to recover,” said Rangel.
Rangel recently reviewed current research on the success of peer-based centers and was pleased to learn that when centers teach skills which prevent crisis situations, the participant’s quality of life and economics improved along with both mental and physical health.
Colusa County’s drop in center, Safe Haven, is increasingly popular amongst the local community. An average of 22 people visit the drop-in center each day that they are open.
The center is open 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday through Saturday.
Safe Haven provides daily groups and activities that are open to anyone in the community and cover a range of interests. Current choices include Personal Medicine, a walking group, Karaoke, Bingo, Arts & Crafts and Mindfulness.
“Peers may work on a puzzle that is left out on a large table, or try the new stress reduction technique of adult coloring, use art supplies to craft, read a book from the center’s library, watch a video in the lounge area or access the internet and computer,” said Rangel, “Each of these activities involves the opportunity to interact with others and make social connections which are essential to good health.”
Community members can access Safe Haven’s services by just walking in and being greeted by the welcoming committee.
Colusa resident, Harriet Resch, feels comfortable dropping in at Safe Haven and enjoys doing scrapbooking activities with others and making social connections through conversations.
“There had been times when I struggled with depression and anxiety in my life,” said Resch, “Safe Haven is a place where I can go in and interact with others who have had similar experiences.”
For people who want to avoid isolation and be more socially active, Safe Haven provides a safe and non-judgemental place to do so.
“It’s an opportunity for people to integrate with the community by receiving support from available resources and also to experience a sense of belonging,” Resch said, “Sometimes I just look around at the walls and see all the new projects and art. Everyone there is so friendly, I just ask someone to tell me about what I’m seeing. It is a very comfortable experience.”
For more information about Safe Haven Drop-In Center contact Valerie Sterling at (530) 458-0856, or stop in Monday through Saturday, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at 131 Fifth Street, in Colusa.