Safe and Open Arms: Without Federal Money and With Pot Prices Sinking Will Local Charities Have to Cut Back


The director of Southern Humboldt’s WISH (Women’s Crisis Centers in Southern Humboldt), Mary Balletta, calls her organization a place of “safe and open arms” but she worries that this haven for women and children will be unable to meet the needs of the community it serves.  She told the Redwood Times, ”We have seen an increase in clients so far this year, due to a particularly cold winter and tough economic times. Last year, we served a total of 148 people in need of emergency shelter, approximately 50 of whom were children…Our clients include young mothers and newborn babies, the elderly, and victims of domestic violence whose identity we protect. … Due to the confidential nature of our work, the public may not be aware of the essential services we provide. We are the only emergency shelter in Southern Humboldt, and without us, those people would have been left on the street, in the cold.”

The organization has lost $150,000 in federal grants this last year.  When I called to get their comment for this story, the phone rang for a long time and then a mechanical voice indicated the answering machine was full.  Too many issues and not enough money and staff to solve them?  WISH has been a wonderful shelter for many women and children here for years.  In a piece I did for Grow Magazine about domestic violence being exacerbated by the secrecy surrounding marijuana growing, Balletta told me that help comes from both sides of the political divide in the area.  “This is a community blended here from straights and the marijuana culture that values protecting women and children…WISH is very special here. Very few communities can start up a help shelter for themselves but we did.”  As prices continue to drop,  (Yesterday, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman told me that prices in Covelo had dropped to $800 per pound and there have been rumors of some Humboldt growers selling at nearly those brutally low prices.)  will the marijuana community have extra money to donate? And if the marijuana community is broke, then the business community will follow. Can the non profits be far behind?

To donate to WISH mail donations to P.O. Box 642, Garberville, CA 95560 or contact them online here.


photo from WISH’s site



One comment

  • There is so much to Humboldt County, besides the Pot Price Bubble bursting. No matter the cause, domestic violence is a sad fact surrounding boom bust cycles. Like when the logging went away in National Forest communities, mills shutting down and parted out and our current real estate foreclosure bubble. Sad events with attendant domestic conflict. Hope springs eternal though with groups like WISH!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *