Safe Haven Chief Operating Officer Felicia Greene has a passion for empowering people and teaching the tools of self-sufficiency to victims of domestic abuse.
Meet Felicia Greene. She grew up in western North Carolina in the small mountain community of Hendersonville, a place famed for apples and fall foliage. She traded in her mountain life for coastal living, and now she’s doing life-changing work with a nonprofit in Pender County named Safe Haven.
Safe Haven’s mission is to help domestic abuse survivors escape their situations, an endeavor that hits close to the heart for Greene, since she was affected by domestic violence in her family growing up.
“I actually am a survivor of domestic violence, so it’s very personal to me what we’re doing,” Greene says. “I saw through my mother’s experience the impact that domestic violence has on adults, on children, on extended family and friends … it isn’t limited to isolated incidents, and it’s everywhere.”
Statistics show that as many as one in four women and one in seven men experience domestic violence during their lifetimes. These alarming numbers prove that domestic violence is a pervasive problem, one that not only disrupts the lives of the victims but also affects victims’ loved ones and families.
While Greene’s personal experience with domestic violence is painful, it gave her direction for what she wanted to spend her life doing and ultimately brought her to work with Safe Haven in December 2020.
Safe Haven serves victims and survivors of domestic abuse throughout Pender and Duplin counties, providing emergency shelter, services, resources and referrals to those who need to get out of abusive situations. Essentially, the organization’s goal is to help “empower and teach self-sufficiency to victims of abuse.”
“The work that we do impacts people who are in their most vulnerable state, who have just lost hope and sight of themselves,” Greene says. “And what we do is walk alongside them until they are back into a better state of health.”
Chief operating officer of Safe Haven, Greene keeps the back-office operations, logistics and organizational aspects flowing smoothly, but her passion lies in working directly with domestic abuse survivors and supporting her staff and volunteers by making sure they have the tools they need to serve Safe Haven’s clients.
When she reflects on the clients she’s worked with, the first characteristics Greene highlights of each are strength and resilience.
“Sometimes we have people come in, and it just looks like everything is stacked against them,” Greene says. “They don’t have transportation or employment, and they don’t know where to go. Our initial goal is just to get them into a safe environment.”
Simple necessities like safety, shelter, a good night’s sleep, new clothes or even moral support can make a huge impact on a victim’s morale and help provide the groundwork to help them get back on their feet.
Greene loves seeing the people she works with soar, taking the resources available to them at Safe Haven and running with them.
“We believe that every survivor can make the wisest decisions for their situation,” Greene says. “Our role is to provide referrals and resources and let them make their own decisions with no judgment from us.”
The survivors she works with aren’t the only ones that Greene impacts with her work at Safe Haven. Lori Kirkpatrick, Safe Haven’s outreach coordinator says, “One thing that makes [Greene] a great leader is her sincere enthusiasm for the work that we do serving victims and survivors of domestic violence. Communicating with co-workers and empowering them to achieve their potential comes naturally to her. She leads by example, motivating and inspiring our staff by demonstrating to them how the work is done.”
Carol Stewart, Safe Haven’s finance manager, adds, “I have worked for many different types of supervisors, but no one quite like Felicia. Felicia is kind, compassionate and always willing to help, no matter what the task entails. I feel she works with everyone as a coworker, although she is not afraid to put her supervisor hat on when the need arises.”
When she isn’t hard at work to help further Safe Haven’s mission, Greene enjoys outdoor activities, volunteering at a local museum and spending time with her husband, son and their two rescue dogs.
Looking ahead, Safe Haven is studying the feasibility of opening a shelter in Duplin County.
“We don’t want to grow this business, we want to be put out of business, to be completely honest, but if there is a need for another shelter we are prepared to do what we need to do to make that happen,” Greene says.
CAN YOU HELP?
If you’re looking to partner with Safe Haven in its fight against domestic violence, the organization is always looking for volunteers willing to give of their time, money or other resources like clothing or food donations. There’s a wish list of needed items for the shelter on the website.
“We are always looking for people who have passion, a huge heart and are willing to go the extra mile,” Greene says. “And we are really easy to work with.”
Volunteers are needed at the shelter and in the thrift store.
Safe Haven volunteers can help as often as once per week or once a year during the holiday season, and everything that is donated to Safe Haven is used. “I think we are good at using the resources that come our way and putting it where it needs to be,” Greene says.
Learn more at: safehavenofpender.com/