The Harbor builds base and looks to future


By Sue Cody


Melissa Van Horn After six months as executive director of The Harbor, Melissa Van Horn says the organization is on solid ground as it prepares to move to the Van Dusen Building by the end of the year. Van Horn has a background in social services and most recently was a housing case manager for Clatsop Community Action.


The Harbor, formerly the Women’s Resource Center, changed its name last year to reflect the mission to serve all people in recovery and support of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.


A shelter and a new home


Two building projects are in the works. One is a new shelter for people fleeing imminent danger.  The donated building had to be gutted and remodeled so it can serve 12 to 15 people – women, families, singles and men. It will offer mid-term stays from 30 to 60 days, which is an improvement over previous facilities Van Horn says. A shelter manager will supervise and assist with housing and other needs.


The Van Dusen Building is in Phase 1 of a three-phase plan to renovate the building. The Oregon Community Foundation is funding the first floor, which will have Dèjá Vu thrift store and a few small offices. The second phase will be a capital campaign, led by board adviser Janet Neimi. A fundraising “Lifesavers Ball” will feature firefighters, first responders and law enforcement personnel. Phase 3 will be the completion of the top floor, to house a sexual assault peer center, kitchen, day care and rental space.


Serving the community


The Harbor serves 80 to 100 clients a month, half of whom have children. Improving service is vital and The Harbor is developing systems and training parenting coaches who can address adverse childhood experiences, Van Horn says. This need is reflected in with The Way to Wellville’s Emotional Health focus area and shown in the film “Paper Tigers,” which Way to Wellville screened for residents.  See:


The Harbor is also working on a regional project. Columbia Pacific CCO’s Community Investment Fund gave a capacity building grant for regional agencies to work together to place advocates in health clinics to address abuse, domestic violence, stalking and other issues. Tillamook County Women’s Resource Center, SAFE of St. Helens and The Harbor are using evidence based materials from “Futures Without Violence,” to develop systems with local health care providers.



“Victims often don’t get the opportunity to walk in the doors of The Harbor,” Van Horn says. “We want to provide a way to work together and develop the language to discuss these issues at the time of their annual health care provider visit.” Health Care Access is another focus area The Way to Wellville supports. The Harbor is currently working with Columbia Memorial Hospital to get this project off the ground.


Support from United Way


United Way supports The Harbor in a way that most grants don’t. It funds general operating costs to keep the nonprofit running. Other grants are specifically designated for staff training, printing, staff support, etc. “But we can’t keep the lights on, pay rent and insurance without support. United Way is amazing, it has been super generous,” Van Horn says.


“There are a lot of things in the works – setting up systems, preparing for the longevity of the program and financial health,” she says.


With a new corporate board and board of directors developing a fiscal plan, the agency that turned nonprofit in 1981 is expanding its mission of intervention, recovery and support to all victims of domestic violence, stalking and abusive relationships, regardless of gender.

The Harbor Poster