Haven House's new playground unveiled in Henry

Children caught up in, or surrounded by, domestic violence in Henry County, have a place where they can just be kids.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held, Friday, for a new playground at the Haven House domestic-violence shelter, in McDonough. The playground was created through fund-raisers conducted The Rotary Club of Henry County.

Kerry Arnold oversaw the project for the Rotary Club when he was president of the group during the 2010-11 year. He said he pushed the endeavor because he wanted to help children impacted domestic violence, and staying at the shelter.

"Haven House has a new facility, and we just wanted to do something for the kids who visit there, to take their minds off the situation they're in — something that puts a smile on their face, and brings a little happiness to the otherwise unhappy situation they're in," Arnold said.

In June, Haven House unveiled its new, $1.7 million facility, housed at an undisclosed location, in Henry County.

"Haven House's purpose is in its name," Arnold said. "It's supposed to be a safe haven for the residents while they're there. The playground is an offshoot of that. It's as much a part of the Haven House as the facility itself."

The playground was donated to the county through the combined volunteer efforts of The Rotary Club of Henry County, and Alpla Plastics, Inc.

Haven House is capable of housing 48 women and children, compared with 18 women and children at its previous site, according to Marjorie Lacy, director of Haven House.

"We have tremendous need in this county for help with domestic violence victims and their children," said Lacy, in June. "There are a lot of people that can't find a place to go when they need to escape a violent home. It's a wonderful place for people that are in a traumatized situation, and have been through horrible things, to be able to put their head on a pillow in a safe, beautiful place."

The new shelter features 14,472 square feet of space, containing 16 bedrooms, kitchen, laundry, living area, and staff offices. Of the 16 bedrooms on site, nine are designated as family rooms, each with a total of three beds, one pull-out trundle, and a private bathroom. The new facility also has a separate teen and children's area.

Almost two dozen members of The Rotary Club of Henry County volunteered on July 15 and 16, to work with volunteers from Alpla Plastics, Inc., in installing the playground apparatus.

"It's a great place for children to be able to play," said Tommy Kennedy, the current president of The Rotary Club of Henry County. "Their mothers already have been through difficult circumstances, and the playground allows them to be kids," said Kennedy.

The Rotary Club's partnership with Alpla Plastics was praised District II Henry County Commissioner Fred Auletta, a Rotary Club member, who also is a former Haven House board member.

"It's good to see the partnership of Alpla and Rotary Club giving back to the community together," said the commissioner during the afternoon ribbon-cutting.

Funds from the third installment of the county's Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax program, paid for the overall cost for the design, engineering, construction, and furniture at the shelter.

For more information about Haven House, visit www.henryhavenhouse.org.

–– Staff writer Elaine Rackley contributed to this article.