New director named for Headwaters Intervention Center
Becci Leonard has taken over as director of Headwaters Intervention Center, an organization supporting victims of domestic violence and child abuse.
Leonard came to Park Rapids from Montevideo where she worked as an advocate for victims of domestic violence. She worked with the Women's Rural Advocacy Program for nine years.
"I've got a strong belief in training the community in the realities of domestic violence," she said.
In her work in Montevideo Leonard did outreach with law enforcement, the courts and other organizations.
She secured a two-year grant that brought training about sexual assault and child abuse to rural areas.
"Being able to collaborate with others was a positive experience," she said. "It really helped to establish who can best serve the victims."
One of Leonard's highlights was working with a victim of domestic violence to change a state Order for Protection law. With the assistance of a domestic violence survivor, Leonard pushed for a new state law to allow a battered woman to extend an OFP when her abuser is incarcerated or about to be released.
It was signed into law in 2004. Advocates across Minnesota had identified this item as a priority.
Headwaters Intervention Center is funded by the state of Minnesota, she said. The center provides confidential support, crisis intervention, advocacy services and information and referrals.
A 24-hour crisis line is available at 800-939-2199.
"We're here to help victims figure out where to go and work with agencies," Leonard said.
Headwaters Intervention Center also has transitional, safe housing available for those in need.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and Leonard wants to bring attention to this in the Park Rapids and Hubbard County area. She finds that many people aren't aware of the extent of domestic violence.
Earlier this week she had four people walk into the center looking for services.
"That wasn't even including the phone calls throughout the day," she said. "It tells me that there's a need and that there has been good communication because people know where to go."
A fall fundraiser and silent auction is from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16 at the Park Rapids American Legion. It is a spaghetti and meatball dinner and silent auction.
As Leonard gets settled into her new position she hopes to focus on community collaboration.
"Working with the local systems, law enforcement, courts, families, trying to get more of the community involved," she said. "And I'm hoping to grow the organization."
Leonard has been in the Park Rapids area just a few weeks but said she already feels welcome. She and her husband, Kevin, have five children, with three in the public school system.
"I'm excited to be here," she said. "This is a very warm, welcoming community and I hope to provide a service to those in need."