SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – As Harmony House continues to stay at capacity, the shelter said it wants to focus on outreach and educate people on how to recognize a domestic violence situation and create a plan for safety.

“I don’t know of any shelter that wants to just keep adding beds because that’s really just a Band-Aid,” Executive Director Lisa Farmer said. “We’d like to do more on the front end so that they don’t need shelter.”

When the pandemic hit, Harmony House reduced its capacity from 168 to 80 or 90. There are 42 rooms in the Harmony House shelter. Most of the survivors come from Greene County, but Farmer said a good percentage come from surrounding counties.

“We either have one single adult in a room or one family,” Farmer said. “One of the lessons we learned in COVID during COVID is 168 people in shelter is really chaos. When you put four traumatized individuals in a room and in all likelihood one of them will have a mental health issue, and one of them will have a substance abuse issue. It is not a healing environment for them, and it’s really hard for our staff as well.”

“I have no money. I have no place to live. He can shut off the electricity he can shut off the water he can quit paying rent. I have no place. It’s either me depending on a friend. Thank god I have a friend to help me out but it’s either that or I’m on the street with my kids. Tomorrow I’m scared but tonight I’m good. That’s what matters. Tonight I’m good.” said one domestic violence survivor.

The shelter gets roughly 4 to 15 hotline calls a day. Not all of them are asking for shelter. Harmony House said some ask for resources.

“We will give them a list of shelters in their surrounding counties,” Farmer said. “Odds are they’re full too, but we will still give them those resources. If they are wanting to leave an abusive situation, but they’re not in imminent danger, we will typically do some safety planning with them. Then if all else fails and we do feel like they really are in some pretty imminent danger, we will try to provide some short-term hotel motel vouchers. We collaborate with Family Justice Center to provide that service.”

Harmony House has a strategic plan focusing on education and outreach to help survivors. The plan includes expanding outreach services to Republic in 2023. The shelter also has a prevention education coordinator, a position that was gone during the height pandemic. The goal is to teach young children and adults about domestic violence situations and what to look out for.

Harmony House said anyone looking for a bed or resources can call the crisis hotline at 417-864-SAFE.