SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Marnie Webb is trying to get people to talk about something few want to discuss.
“We don’t go to work the next day and say, ‘Oh I tried to get housing last night because my spouse beats me,'” she said.
The CEO of Caravan Studios, a division of the San Francisco non-profit Tech Soup, came up with the idea of helping survivors of domestic violence after her mother-in-law told her about a woman who needed a safe place to stay.
“In the course of telling me the story she said, ‘I’d pay for a hotel room for that girl if I could.’ And I thought, ‘Wait a second! How can we put this together?'” Webb said.
What she and her team at Caravan put together is an app called “SafeNight.” It’s designed to connect people who are trying to escape violence with shelters in the area that can help.
But often, the shelters are full, so the app goes a step further, sending a notification to people who have downloaded the app, asking for donations to pay for a hotel room.
- If you need a room or want to donate a room, you can download the SafeNight app on the Windows Phone Store, Google Play, or the AppStore. Just click here.
“The last thing we ever want to tell them is we don’t have a safe place for you to sleep,” said Cori Manthorne of CORA, or Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse in San Mateo.
Manthorne says their 24-hour hotline receives more than 1,000 requests for shelter every year. CORA can only fill 200 of those requests at its safe houses. The SafeNight app means hotel rooms can be an option when the houses are full.
“In that case, we say, ‘We have this hotel available for you,'” Manthorne explained. “We’ve built relationships with hotels and we can put a family into a hotel room immediately. So there are immediate results for their safety.”
Right now, SafeNight is being used in California, Texas, and Iowa, and soon in New Jersey. Organizations in three other states have expressed interest as well.
Manthorne thinks the app is life-saving. Webb thinks it helps give true meaning to life.
“If we can help with that? That, that is tremendous to be in a position to be able to do that,” she said.
So for helping connect domestic violence service groups with those in need of safe shelter, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Marnie Webb.
If you need a room or want to donate a room, you can download the SafeNight app on the Windows Phone Store, Google Play, or the AppStore. Just click here.