History of Shelters and SOS – “A Look Back” – by Karen Parsinen
Women’s Haven in Fort Worth – established in 1976
The Arlington Women’s Shelter – established in 1978 – in a small church in Arlington
Supporters of the Shelter: In 1985 a meeting was held at the home of Sandra Roberts. Approximately fifteen women were at that first meeting. Carol Grammer, an Arlington resident who served on the board of the Arlington Women’s Shelter was a friend of mine and Sandra’s. She asked us to think about putting together a support group in Northeast Tarrant County patterned after the Arlington SOS that had been established in 1984. Those of us who attended that first meeting contacted other women we knew to organize the SOS.
1985 – Mid-Cities SOS started – bylaws and organization were patterned after the Arlington SOS – Sandra Roberts became the first President and I followed her the next year. In those days the SOS did more hands-on work at the shelter and the resource center which was housed at Northeast Community Hospital in Bedford – now Parc Place Retirement Community. We had several golf tournaments to benefit the shelter, an event called “Art of the Table” which became “Celebrity Chefs”, and a joint Halloween party with the Arlington SOS. We later began the tennis tournament as a fundraiser and a croquet tournament. We even had a partnership for a day at Six Flags Over Texas whereby the SOS received a percentage of the ticket revenue.
At some point in the early 1990s when I was serving on the Board of the Shelter, the name was changed to The Women’s Shelter. In 2006 The Women’s Shelter merged with Women’s Haven in Fort Worth to create SafeHaven of Tarrant County. At that point Mid-Cities Supporters of the Shelter became Mid-Cities Supporters of SafeHaven. The new shelter in Arlington was dedicated in 1999.
The Women’s Shelter had three Executive Directors before the present ED. Betty Rushing was the original ED, then Patricia Harmon, and of course, Mary Lee Hafley, who became ED for both shelters after the merger.
~~ Karen Parsinen presented this history at the SOS 30th Anniversary Celebration, October 22, 2015.