Community Improvement: NOT for Women only – The Women’s Center’s Support for Children, by Katelyn Swanson

domestic violence prevention and support to survivors, Marquette and Alger CountyMI Women's Center, support services for children in Marquette MI, U.P. wellness publication

Have you ever needed a safe place to escape from someone who was trying to hurt you or your children?

Hopefully you can answer with a confident “no.” The sad reality, however, is that many in our community can’t. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the US. In one year, that is more than 10 million men and women affected by abuse. What’s even more upsetting is 90% of the time, children are eyewitnesses to this type of violence. Domestic, sexual, stalking and dating violence happen much more often than you might think. Those residing in Marquette and Alger counties are very fortunate to have the easily accessible Women’s Center to provide protection and resources if they find themselves in these terrifying predicaments.

The Women Center’s Harbor House is a safety shelter for adults and children fleeing from violence. It is also a place where staff and volunteers can help implement safety plans and assist in organizing personal protection orders, if necessary. The Harbor House offers counseling, support groups, and childcare. It also provides transportation for those attending counseling, seeking employment, or attending court hearings. The Women’s Center helps residents find employment and affordable housing. By uplifting and supporting mothers, it also gives hope to the children of broken families.

Sudden new living situations can be an exceptionally hard adjustment for youth. The Women’s Center focuses on providing an inviting setting to make the transition as comfortable as possible. Every year, the Marquette Breakfast Rotary supports the youth program by providing money supporting fun activities for the children such as play room furniture, art supplies, sporting equipment, and more. Even with an inviting space, those evading intimate violence usually need more material support. They typically arrive with only the clothes on their backs, and the children have had to leave their favorite blankets or stuffed animals behind. That’s where the PakRatz Resale shop comes in! PakRatz Resale is a space where clothing and home goods donations are accepted from the public, then distributed to those who find themselves in need before the remainder is made available for sale to the public, helping to sustain services. If you’re looking to donate, one of the shop’s biggest necessities right now is quality children’s clothing.

The Women’s Center provides a Sexual Assault Response Program which is an on-call emergency response program available 24/7.

This program provides counseling, support groups, and educational information to any woman or child who has survived sexual assault. The staff and volunteers will accompany survivors to the hospital and to interviews with the law enforcement officers on-scene. The Women’s Center’s staff and volunteers have been trained to provide exceptional care and support. This is a much-needed service for adults, but also especially beneficial for children. Sadly, current numbers indicate one in three girls and one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach eighteen (Department of Justice).

Just in the last fiscal year, the Women’s Center’s staff and volunteers helped nearly three thousand people escape domestic and/or sexual violence in the Marquette and Alger communities. The Center is so thorough it even has a program in place to help survivors keep their pets out of harm’s way–the Sasawin Project. Since 1973, the Women’s Center staff and volunteers have been committed to helping not only women affected by abuse, but also the children. According to the Journal of Family Psychology, more than 15 million children witness domestic violence each year in the United States. Such situations are hard enough on adults, and can be particularly detrimental to the impressionable minds and souls of children. The Women’s Center offers counseling for youth survivors to learn coping mechanisms and lay down a hopeful path to recovery. They also host Children’s Group, open to youth residents of Harbor House and children whose parents attend the Domestic Violence support group. In Children’s Group, participants can learn how to stay safe, develop problem-solving skills, and understand that what happened to them is not at all their fault.

The Women’s Center does everything in its power to create communal awareness of these unfortunate situations happening around us.

The Women’s Center hosts fundraisers and family friendly events, and makes special efforts such as decorating the local courthouse with purple pinwheels for domestic violence awareness. They’ve even had a free self-defense class for those ages twelve and older. In addition to hosting events, they help with necessities by providing items such as socks and warm boots, an absolute must-have here in the U.P.

Annually, the Women Center’s Harbor House provides over three thousand shelter nights to men, women, and children, with the average stay lasting between forty-five and ninety days. These stays run an average of over $1,000 per person. That doesn’t include the many other services provided which are all free of charge. Without community donations, these acts of compassion within our community wouldn’t be possible. Monetary (tax deductible) donations can be made online at or over the phone at (906)225-1346. The Women’s Center also accepts used cell phones, and donations can be made at PakRatz Resale. Your donations will go to those who desperately need them, and to help out a center that greatly improves our community!

Emergency hotline: 906-226-6611 or 1-800-455-6611



Katelyn Swanson is a women’s health enthusiast and doula at Katelyn Swanson Birth and Family Services. She also creates social media content under the figure Really Rosemary and joins together a community of women by sharing her vulnerable and honest mothering of three young children.

Reprinted with permission from the Winter 2019-2020 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. All rights reserved.

New Programs from AAUW-Marquette by Leslie Bek

The mission of the American Association of University Women is to advance gender equity for women and girls through research, education, and advocacy. A powerful mission. A mission the Marquette Branch seizes to create and sustain positive change locally, statewide, nationally, and globally.

The membership year is September – May, highlighted with engaging and inspiring programs. Through collaborative actions, it organizes additional mission-driven training and educational opportunities in the area. AAUW Marquette Branch also supports national and Northern Michigan University scholarships. Funding is generated by a scholarship fund campaign launched each new school year in September, and a used book sale held each April.

The gift of academic opportunity changes lives and opens doors for women who demonstrate financial need. AAUW Marquette Branch has been campaigning to raise funds for national AAUW scholarship programs since 1959, and local scholarships at Northern Michigan University since 1980. Through this investment, donors are impacting women’s dreams for the future.

Upcoming meetings begin at 7 p.m. and are held at the Federated Women’s Clubhouse, 104 W. Ridge Street, Marquette. Guests and new members are welcome to attend.

On September 13, AAUW Marquette Branch Program Co-Chair Leslie Bek will facilitate “Salad Supper & AAUW Priorities.” The featured discussion will answer the question “Why AAUW?” explaining why its members are here and why they keep coming back. Highlights will include AAUW accomplishments, priorities at the national, state, and local level, and upcoming programs of the Marquette Branch. AAUW members are asked to bring salad, dessert, or rolls; guests are invited and encouraged to attend. Please email Kathy Davis at if you’ll be attending. For more information, contact Leslie Bek at

The timely “Voting Matters” event will take place October 11. AAUW board members Ruth Ziel and Marge Forslin will facilitate an evening filled with a variety of topics to engage and inform voters. Updates on ballot issues, the security of our voting system in Michigan, gerrymandering, and fact checking will be presented. The program will conclude with a call to action to get out the vote.

“Career Night: Empowering Women as They Launch” will take place November 8. This event will focus on first-generation college students, student groups, and pre-professional associations. The mixer format, facilitated by AAUW board member Leslie Warren and AAUW member Taylor Susa, is an opportunity to dialogue with young women about getting a strong career start. Based on professional lessons learned from members representing multiple fields, this match-up promises to offer priceless heads-up conversations.

For more information, contact AAUW Marquette Branch President, Judy Puncochar, or website

Leslie Bek is the AAUW Marquette Branch NMU Scholarship Campaign Chair and Program Co-Chair.

Excerpted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Fall 2018 Issue, copyright 2018. All rights reserved.