The typically tranquil board room at the Womanhaven office in El Centro bustled with activity on the morning of Dec. 19 with the delivery of dozens of pajamas for victims of domestic abuse sheltered by the agency.
The donation effort was coordinated by Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District. Pajamas are the number one thing people in need of shelter forget when packing up the essentials, said Gina Vargas, Womanhaven executive director.
“This points to a need of shelter in the (Imperial) Valley that is alarming. Just the fact that victims going into the shelter have one less thing to worry about with these pajamas is very comforting to them,” she said as she patiently waited on delivery.
“We run the shelter at around 98 percent capacity on any given day throughout the year,” Vargas added. “The support shown by the community immediately lets victims know they are not alone, and I think that’s very important.”
Finally, the Pioneers staff arrived bearing boxes and bags filled with pajamas.
“It’s very important for us to support Womanhaven due to their constant care of men, women and children who are in need of shelter, said Robert Brown, hospital human resources director, upon delivering the gifts. “We are very happy to be any kind of help. As soon as the opportunity came up for us to assist them, we eagerly jumped on that.”
Tomas Oliva, a Womanhaven board director and new member of the El Centro City Council, said he was impressed by the effort.
“We are very fortunate to have people in the community who care about the people who are truly in need,” said Oliva. “Border districts see a lot of need like this. And I’m very grateful that the community, along with the employees of Pioneer Memorial, care enough to make an effort in the pursuit of making someone’s life better.”
Womanhaven has been busy during the holiday season, hosting a toy drive, the fruits of which were also piled high in the board room. It runs “Adopt-a-Family," which allows sponsors to take on the responsibility of acquiring gifts for children in shelters.