Volume 22, Number 53 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 14 - 20, 2010
Recognizing the important work being done by Safe Horizon’s Project SAFE Program, which offers free lock replacement to victims of domestic violence and other crimes throughout NYC, Schlage donated 2,000 locks to help victims and their families regain a sense of personal and emotional safety. Left to right: Schlage Brand Director Ann Matheis presents a symbolic key to Safe Horizon CEO Ariel Zwang and Senior VP Nathaniel Fields.
Nonprofit partners instill sense of security
BY Aline Reynolds
On a recent evening, a woman who is calling herself “Francine” was assaulted by her ex-boyfriend in her Downtown Manhattan apartment. The man fled before the 9th Precinct cops arrived. A local hospital referred Francine to Safe Horizon’s domestic violence hotline. Within a few days, Francine was assigned to a Project SAFE coordinator, who arranged for a police escort and a locksmith to accompany her to her apartment. The victim’s door locks were replaced, and she felt “much safer having the cops there.”
Deadbolt locks are known to reduce break-ins and domestic violence. Now, Safe Horizon, a victim-protection organization that has long supplied free door locks to people under threat, has received a big boost from the lock company Schlage.
At a press conference held last Tuesday at Safe Horizon’s headquarters at 2 Lafayette Street, Schlage announced that it is donating a total of 2,000 high-security deadbolt locks to Safe Horizon’s Project SAFE. Schlage has previously made similar donations to Habitat for Humanity and other organizations.
“The desire to provide security and peace of mind to our customers is at the core of everything we do,” said Ann Matheis, Schlage’s Brand Director based in the company’s headquarters in Carmel, Indiana. “These locks…will hopefully go a long way toward restoring a sense of security to those who need it most,” she added.
Project SAFE has installed 70 of the donated Schlage devices in the homes of 47 abuse and violence victims throughout New York City. The donation from Schlage represents the first time in Project SAFE’s 31-year history that locks have been donated rather than bought from retailers.
“Anyone who has filed a police report is eligible for a free lock installation under Project SAFE,” said Nathaniel Fields, senior vice president of Safe Horizon’s DC Shelter Programs and Hotlines. A lock can be changed within 48 hours of a request. Victims of rape or sexual assault do not have to file police reports in order to obtain locks from Project SAFE, Fields added.
Safe Horizon partners with local locksmiths to install locks in the homes of crime victims who “urgently need to restore a sense of personal and emotional safety in their lives,” according to Schlage’s May 18 press release.
Ariel Zwang, Safe Horizon’s CEO, praises the Schlage locks for being compact and user-friendly. “They [Safe Horizon’s hired locksmiths] especially like that the deadbolt has an adjustable backset, which can be twisted to make the bolt longer,” she said. “In the past, they had to order deadbolts in two sizes because they were a fixed length.”
Safe Horizon, one of the nation’s leading victim-assistance organizations, was founded in 1979 to protect and support victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. It provides approximately 250,000 adults and children per year with shelter, food and mental health support. The nonprofit has more than 60 sites across the City’s five boroughs.
Altogether, Safe Horizon installs 1,000 locks per year in New York City. Locks have been installed in 131 Manhattan residences, since last July, the start of the City’s fiscal year. Since January, eight locks have been installed in Lower Manhattan, which Safe Horizon designates as the area from 14th Street down to Battery Park. The Downtown victims have reported their crime, abuse or harassment incidents to Downtown’s 5th, 7th and 9th Police Precincts.
Following the May 18 press conference, the Safe Horizon crew pointed out that changing locks is one of many services that it offers. Others include installing guards on the windows of domestic violence victims’ homes.
“Just getting the lock changed is not going to fix the problem on its own,” said Fields. “It’s one small part of the overall strategy to getting victims to safety.”
Safe Horizon is also the nation’s largest single refuge provider for battered women and children. It runs eight shelters across the City, one of which is in Lower Manhattan. The nonprofit also provides crisis intervention, safety planning and counseling to domestic abuse victims through family courts and its in-house services in its New York offices. Safe Horizon has three 24-hour hotlines in the City, responding to more than 160,000 calls per year.
Safe Horizon is national in scope, recently launching U.S.-wide initiatives SafeWork and Hope Shining to raise awareness to corporations and government organizations about domestic violence and child abuse.
The program also provides counseling and aid to victims of burglary, harassment and human trafficking. For more information, visit www.safehorizon.org or call 1-800-621-HOPE.