Our mission is to create a community where everyone has the opportunity to live violence free.
Since 1978, we have led the community in the prevention of and response to domestic violence and sexual assault by providing emergency shelter, advocacy, education and family support in an effort to promote nonviolence and peace throughout Ketchikan and Southern Southeast Alaska.
In 1976, the International Year of the Woman, a group of women came together to discuss the problems and needs of women in Ketchikan. The concern that prompted this group was safety to women and children who were in danger due to domestic violence and the lack of supportive and sensitive services for victims of sexual assault.
As a result, in 1977, a dedicated group of women and men began to meet in private homes and in the basements of churches to give substance to their vision of providing help and services to women and children who were victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. The all-volunteer group formalized themselves and became known as WISH, Women In Safe Homes.
By 1978, WISH had begun to provide direct services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. WISH operated out of donated space in churches for several months. Through bake and rummage sales, these volunteers were able to pay for telephone service to insure victims of support and advocacy.
In January of 1979, Women In Safe Homes, as part of the Alaska Family Violence Program participated in the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) grant. This funding allowed WISH to hire a part-time director, rent a private office, and support telephone service costs for one year. Within months the organization acquired a CETA-funded secretary, a record-a-call phone system for twenty-four hour service and eight hours a day office availability-major phases in service development. Crisis volunteers continued to provide all crisis intervention after office hours complemented by twelve private “Safe Homes” for emergency housing. With no funding for food, clothing, transportation and housing, all service efforts were completely voluntary and community oriented.
In September 1979, through a WIN Grant award, Women In Safe Homes hired a full time counselor for daytime intervention and follow-up with program participants. During the summer months of 1979, program participant’s calls had increased to the point that all safe homes were filled and no alternative housing was available. It became increasingly evident that a shelter facility was needed in Ketchikan to serve the city, the rural villages and the transient population. It became the major goal for the Board of Directors to seek funding to open and operate a permanent shelter facility to house women in crisis.
In fiscal year 1980, Women In Safe Homes received operations funding from the State of Alaska on a contractual basis with the Department of Social Service. With the addition of a federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant, Women In Safe Homes was able to purchase and begin operation of a shelter facility in December of 1980.
WISH continued to expand over the next few decades, and now operates a 32-bed shelter with 24/7 crisis intervention for the immediate safety and emotional well-being of people who are victims or who are at risk of becoming victims in our service area.