Headwaters Intervention Center introduces new director

Body: 

Penny Stras was named director of the Headwaters Intervention Center (HIC), which has offices in Park Rapids and Bagley.

She officially started Oct. 10.

The non-profit center serves domestic violence victims in Hubbard and Clearwater counties.

Stras said her goals for HIC are very much aligned with the current board of directors.

"We know that in the two counties there's a lot of unmet need," she said.

Originally from Underwood, Minn., Stras served as executive director for community action organizations and Head Start in both Montana and Oregon. She earned two undergraduate degrees and her master's degree during her 30 years living in Montana.

In addition to a 24-hour talk and text crisis line (1-800-939-2199), HIC has two full-time advocates that provide a listening ear, help victims sort through their options, file orders for protection or harassment restraining orders and makes referrals to other agencies.

The center's services are free and confidential.

During HIC's last quarter (July through Sept.), they served 80 clients in Hubbard County and 42 in Clearwater.

Stras will be hiring a third advocate on a part-time basis for the Park Rapids office.

"We want to have our advocates spend more time with clients and longer term. The hope is we can remain with them to provide ongoing services so they don't feel they have to go back to a dangerous situation," she explained.

Community awareness and education is another priority for Stras. She plans to implement proactive, outreach programs to high school students.

Young men and women can benefit from self-esteem and communication classes where they learn how to stand up for themselves so they don't get into threatening situations, Stras said.

"We just need more education at that level. We need to reach them young, and it's boys and girls."

HIC is seeking volunteers to handle the crisis line. Free, 40-hour training would be provided.

"Most of the calls, probably 90 to 95 percent, would be giving referral information or making an appointment with our advocate. There might be a few times that they just need to listen or contact an advocate to get emergency assistance removal," Stras said.

Volunteers are always needed for HIC's fundraisers. For more information, call 732-7413.