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Partner Agency Spotlight: Safe Harbor

This month I visited Safe Harbor’s Executive Director Lori Antkoviak.  A licensed attorney, Lori used to work on child abuse and neglect along with family law and criminal defense cases. Having a special passion for the child abuse and neglect cases, when Lori was approached to be the Executive Director at Safe Harbor in 2007, she gladly accepted.  

Safe Harbor offers a variety of programs to the Allegan County community, ranging from prevention to intervention. The organization offers prevention in the schools as well as with adults. Prevention in the schools is done using a coloring book to facilitate learning. In the past, Safe Harbor has received grant funding from ACUW to purchase the coloring books, however, the organization recently created a more cost-effective method. Safe Harbor has a custom new coloring book titled “Safe Harbor, Safe Kids". What makes this coloring book so wonderful for the prevention program aside from the cost-savings is that the books are specific to Safe Harbor so the presentations are tailored to the needs of our community. The coloring books are used for younger elementary students in K-3rd grade. The organization is working to develop another book for 4th-6th grade. Throughout 2015, Safe Harbor was able to reach 1,280 children through its prevention program.

Prevention programs for adults are available to mandated reporters of child abuse and to community members. The community member training is presented through a program titled Stewards of Children. For more info, please contact Lori Antkoviak at or call 269-673-3791.

The Children Advocacy Center Program provides a safe and child-friendly atmosphere to allow a child to disclose neglect, sexual, or physical abuse and to heal from the abuse.  Last year, the CAC program saw 176 kids for specifically sexual abuse or severe physical abuse. Additionally, they provided counseling to 82 children and body safety medical exams to 40 children.

Its last program, the CASA Program, is a volunteer based service that has been in existence since 1989. CASA volunteers offer children trust and advocacy during complex legal proceedings and more importantly during one of the most traumatic times in their lives. The uniqueness of a CASA volunteer is that this volunteer is assigned one case at a time and visits the child/ren on a weekly basis.  This allows the volunteer to have more time to discover the child’s history, lifestyle and needs in an effort to present the Judge with more relevant information regarding the child’s circumstances. Currently the program has 15 volunteers and serving 17 children who have suffered abuse and/or neglect.

During our meeting, Lori shared a story that truly highlighted the impact of Safe Harbor’s programs.

Had a group of three siblings that were removed from mom and did not have a dad in the picture. They came to Safe Harbor through the Children Advocacy Center and later had a CASA volunteer assigned to them. Eventually mom's rights were terminated when the children came to Safe Harbor all were victims of severe physical and emotional abuse and neglect. The siblings were very close in age and well-bonded. It became a struggle as well as a goal to make sure the three siblings remained together. “They were incredible kids but young and needed a lot of attention and due to abuse, needed someone who could pour love into their lives” described Lori. All three siblings were placed together in a pre-adoptive home that went great and eventually the family agreed to adopt. Since then the three have been adopted and have grown significantly. Prior to coming to Safe Harbor, they had not received the education that they needed, however, in their pre-adoptive home they were able to receive education and early literacy that they needed to the point that they were thriving and learning. “The day of their adoption it was thrilling to see the loving impact that the new parents had provided to these kids” remembered Lori.

As a partner agency, Safe Harbor receives allocations funding from ACUW for tis CASA program. Currently, 27% of its CASA program is funded by United Way. In addition, last year’s body safety coloring books were funded through a ACUW grant. Being the only funder for the books, without the ACUW grant, the coloring book program would not have reach kids.

ACUW and Safe Harbor’s relationship extends past funding.  For last year’s allocation cycle, Lori served on one of our allocations committees, visiting other partner agencies and helping to make funding recommendations in the area of community supports (an area that Safe Harbor is not directly related to).

ACUW and Safe Harbor collaborate on a couple coalitions, striving for a healthier community. We both are members of Healthy Allegan County Coalition and Great Start Collaborative’s Social Emotional Wellness Committee. In both coalitions, the agencies have been successful in providing evidence based training and resources to the community.

Lastly, Safe Harbor and ACUW work together through our volunteer website, where CASA program volunteer openings are posted.

Safe Harbor’s achievements were recently recognized at the state level. The organization received a Special Tribute from State Representative Mary Whiteford for its outstanding devotion and dedication to the Allegan County community.

To learn more about Safe Harbor visit their website at