He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ (Lk 10:34-35)
The sense of welcome and thoughtful guidance extended by the team at Safe Haven has been an abiding part of my opening six months here as Fellow in Residence. Warm inquiries about my stories, insightful responses to questions about the field of domestic and sexual violence as well as patient support as I navigate the learning curve of organizational procedures and culture; these all have been the norm. This is a place that practices hospitality with agility and passion.
One of the concrete ways that I’ve witnessed Safe Haven’s hospitality is expressed through our “no wrong door” policy that guides survivors to shelter and safety. And my colleagues in direct service and housing consistently go the extra mile to provide safe shelter. Even more remarkable is how the client service team consistently asks survivors exiting our shelter the simple question, “what else could we have done better?” And they continue to grow.
The consistent response has been, “I need help with housing.” Housing is often a goal that advocates are assisting with from the start of a client’s stay. As they’ve worked with clients, the team has come to understand more fully the research-documented link between domestic violence and homelessness. The CDC (2016) found that up to 57% of all homeless women report that domestic violence was the immediate cause of their homelessness. Among U.S. city mayors (2005), 50% identified intimate partner violence as a primary cause of homelessness in their city.
And as a learning organization, Safe Haven has sought out best practice and partnerships to better respond to survivor needs. We’ve gotten better. The recent announcement of new partnerships with AYA and Madison Church describes how hospitality has grown deeper and wider at Safe Haven Ministries. Fox 17 New initiative looks to provide more housing for domestic abuse survivors and Wood TV ‘Safe Transitions’ program aims to provide housing for abuse survivors | WOODTV.com helped to detail the extra that is emerging.
When I seek to understand how to convey the distinctive practice of hospitality that is here, I turn to Rosaria Butterfield’s 2018 book The Gospel Comes with a House Key: Practicing Radically Ordinary Hospitality in Our Post-Christian World. Her title and book offers language for how hospitality plays out for Safe Haven. As an organization founded by churches and rooted in following Christ’s example, we do believe the gospel comes with a house key and we are looking to live out this belief in radically ordinary ways. We want to be extra because each of us as image bearers deserves extra.
May we all walk in the abundance of the extra that He has given.