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Accountants raise funds for Safe Haven

At a Chamber of Commerce event at the Kitchi Gammi Club in June, Kristi Beaver, Safe Haven community education and development coordinator, explains the dynamics of domestic abuse and the programs that Safe Haven provides. Projected on the screen is the the Power and Control Wheel, which was developed by another Duluth agency, the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program, in 1984. The Power and Control Wheel is used internationally in domestic violence programs. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger)

With more than 80 offices nationwide, RSM is an audit, tax and consulting firm. But in the next couple of months the company is getting a little more oriented toward children and families. Each local office has teamed up with a charity in its own community.

RSM, known until last year as McGladrey, has an office on First Street in Duluth with a staff of about 75 auditors, tax consultants and support staff, with another 25 employees on the road. The local office is located in the Missabe Building, 227 W. First St.

"Having an organization like RSM is a huge boost to our organization," said Susan Utech, Safe Haven executive director. "It not only gives us an economic boost, but the commitment of RSM staff shows how much they care about those who are experiencing crisis in their homes and that they want to help. It is heartwarming for those of us who serve in the trenches day in and day out."

In Duluth, RSM plans a bake sale and a bean-bag toss. The money raised will be donated to Safe Haven, an agency that helps abused women and children, and will be matched by RSM's national foundation.

"We chose Safe Haven because of everything they do in this community and their educational programs," said Megan Blum, an office administrator for the Duluth RSM office. "I've talked to a few people in our office who have had friends who used Safe Haven."

First, RSM is sponsoring a bake sale on Aug. 22 on the second floor of the Holiday Center. RSM and Safe Haven employees, as well as friends of Safe Haven, will bake goodies for the sale such as banana bread, rice crispy bars and paleo-friendly almond flour cookies.

Then on Oct. 1, RSM will sponsor a bean-bag toss at the Other Place Bar and Grill. The event will include a bucket raffle and a pizza buffet. All proceeds go to Safe Haven with a 50 percent match from the RSM Foundation.

Another way to be involved in raising money for charity is to make an online pledge in the Birdies Fore Love Program through Oct. 5.

Golf fans will recognize the McGladrey Classic, a tournament the company sponsored on the PGA Tour, played in autumn in Georgia. Last year the tournament was renamed the RSM Classic. Partnering with the Davis Love Foundation, the Classic has raised more than $2.2 million for charity.

People can make donations via the website, RSMUS.com/birdiesforelove, where the donation will receive a 50 percent match by the RSM Foundation. As an extra incentive to donate, the entrant who guesses the number of birdies for the RSM Classic tournament Nov. 17-20 wins the grand prize of a trip for two to Sea Island Resort in Georgia.

Why Safe Haven?

When looking for a charity to donate to, the local RSM employees were impressed with Safe Haven's Self Sufficiency program, according to Megan Blum of the RSM Duluth office. This is a class that empowers victims of domestic violence to gain independence and autonomy in four basic areas: employment, housing, education and childcare. These classes meet weekly on Thursdays at Safe Haven's downtown resource center.

Clients in the self sufficiency program vary in experience and education. Some clients have completed the eighth grade, while last week a woman with a Ph.D. updated her resume.

"Thursday nights always leave me feeling hopeful!" said Nancy Rectenwald, Safe Haven's self-sufficiency program coordinator.

Safe Haven provides services for battered women and their children. It has a 24-hour emergency shelter in Duluth as well as a resource center. Other services it provides include a 24-hour crisis hotline, assistance in filing protective orders, court advocacy, safety planning, information and referrals, professional training and community education and free education and support groups.

In 2015, Safe Haven legal advocates assisted 271 victims write and file restraining orders (80 percent of all orders filed) and provided advocacy to an additional 64 victims.

The Resource Center averaged 211 victim visits per month. About two-thirds of these visits were victims walking in looking for help without an appointment. Safe Haven's crisis line answers over 1,600 calls a year. Safe Haven's emergency shelter, with 39 beds, served 330 unduplicated women and 270 unduplicated children and had a 101-percent occupancy rate in 2015.

If you go

What: Bake sale

Where: Holiday Plaza, second floor

When: Monday, Aug. 22, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or until goodies sell out

What: Cornhole for a Cause (bean-bag tournament)

Where: Other Place Bar and Grill, 3930 E. Calvary Rd.

When: Saturday, Oct. 1, ]time to be determined. (Registration posted on theotherplacemn.com)

Cost: $25 per person for tournament, T-shirt and one drink ticket included.

Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at www.DuluthDailyPhoto.com.

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