The Healing Place was first established in 1986 operating as an outreach of the Rape Crisis Center of Buncombe County in Asheville. Forty clients were served the first year of operation (1986). In 1987, the first support group was formed. Past groups included support groups for adolescent victims, adult survivors of child sexual assault, adult victims of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and non-offending parents of children of sexual assault. Presently The Healing Place offers an Expressive Arts Therapy Group for adult survivors.

In 1990, we broke away from the Buncombe County Rape Crisis Center, incorporated and on April 13, 1990 obtained our own 501©3, non-profit status, as Rape Crisis Center-Henderson County.

When The Healing Place became independent of Rape Crisis Center-Buncombe County in 1990, the community began to strongly support the center. Referrals came in from numerous human service agencies and schools. Requests for education programs from civic organizations, churches, and schools greatly increased. An Administrative Assistant and Education/Volunteer Coordinator were hired. Various fundraisers were held for the center. In 1991, a tremendous boost came when Burt Reynolds came to the Flat Rock Playhouse with his one-man show for Friends of Rape Crisis Center-Henderson County. As the center expanded to serve children as well as adult victims, a name change was in order and started doing business as The Healing Place: A Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center in the summer of 1991 and officially changed the name on October 24, 1996.

Prevention education became a priority for The Healing Place when United Way recommended more involvement from the center in the school system. An education committee was formed that included community members, as well as board members. “I Make Myself Safe” program was developed and implemented in the schools in the winter of 1991. By 1993, the awareness program was expanded to grades K, 1, 2, 5, 8, and 9. From 1994 to 2008, respective education presentations were made to all Henderson County Public schools. A new piece of legislation, The Healing Youth Act of 2009, changed the dynamic for public school involvement. The Healing Place provides an awareness program to 7th, 8th, and 9th graders based on the act. Components of the awareness program include cyber safety, healthy relationships, risk reduction, and The Healing Place as a community resource.

Additionally, in 1991, The Healing Place expanded its services to reach Transylvania County with a special $3000 grant from United Way of Transylvania County. At this time, a telephone line was installed to provide immediate access to services and an advisory board of Transylvania County residents was formed to recruit volunteers and develop fundraisers for the Transylvania County center. In 1995, with a grant from the Governor’s Crime Commission: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), an office in Brevard was rented and staffed five days a week and a full-time Volunteer Coordinator was hired. The Counselor spent two days a week in the Brevard office and three in the Hendersonville office with the Volunteer Coordinator spending the opposite time in each center.

Then in 1997, The Healing Place was approached by FOCUS, the child advocacy center of Henderson County, about the possibility of combining services. FOCUS served victims of child sexual abuse, so combining the two programs streamlined services and allowed one agency to better serve clients. A Child Services Coordinator was hired to administer the Child Advocacy Center program. This program includes advocacy, support, case management, multi-disciplinary team management of cases, awareness campaigns, court school and support, school prevention programs (I Make Myself Safe), and the providing of a safe, child-friendly room where social services and law enforcement can interview child victims.

In July 1999, The Healing Place closed its office in Transylvania County. In an effort to effectively utilize available funding, the rape crisis program of The Healing Place was assumed by SAFE, the domestic violence agency of Transylvania County. The Healing Place made great strides in Transylvania County educating the community on the issue of sexual assault. SAFE was able to utilize their volunteer base and crisis line to continue to offer comprehensive services to victims of sexual assault in Transylvania County.

As a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center, The Healing Place served as a resource to other communities trying to coordinate services for victims. Members of a multi-disciplinary team met twice per month and reviewed every child abuse case. A memorandum of understanding clearly defined the roles of each agency and included Henderson County Sheriff’s Department, Hendersonville Police Department, Fletcher Police Department, Laurel Park Police Department, the District Attorney’s office, the Department of Social Services, a local pediatrician, a mental health representative, and The Healing Place. The object of a collaborative approach was to reduce duplicative interviews and secondary trauma to the victim. The Healing Place helped train other Henderson County professionals and continues to advocate for best practices among providers. In 2012, Henderson County could no longer meet the standards for accreditation by the National Children’s Alliance and The Healing Place Board of Directors voted to give up the designation. Because of the large increase in the number of clients needing mental health and case management services, The Healing Place refocused its efforts on recovery through specialized services to victims.

The Healing Place has served the following number of clients in the past:

1999-2000 – 465 clients
2000-2001 – 486 clients
2001-2002 – 426 clients
2002-2003 – 417 clients
2003-2004 – 360 clients
2004-2005 – 504 clients
2005-2006 – 595 clients
2006-2007 – 624 clients
2007-2008 – 679 clients
2008-2009 – 843 clients
2009-2010 – 707 clients
2010-2011 – 957 clients
2011-2012 – 905 clients
2012-2013 – 1065 clients

Funding for The Healing Place comes from a variety of sources. They include:
City of Hendersonville
Henderson County
United Way of Henderson County
Governor’s Crime Commission: Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)
Governor’s Crime Commission: Sexual Assault Service Provider (SASP)
North Carolina Council for Women

VOCA funding is money seized from a crime and required to be used in service to victims. North Carolina Council for Women support is money that is appropriated by the General Assembly to assist agencies that provide services to women. The center also receives financial support from various fundraisers, an annual campaign letter, churches, businesses and individual contributions.

The projected budget for 2013-14 is $315,657.