By Denise Ortuno Neil

The well regarded SafeHouse of the Desert is expanding with new programs this season. The shelter has been a beacon for children in need of a safe haven here in the Coachella Valley, assisting them in moving forward with their lives. With the new programs in place, SafeHouse of the Desert will be able to help even more.

SafeHouse of the Desert is a privately funded non-profit organization. Opened 24 hours, 7 days a week, the facility is geared to helping children from the ages of 11-17 in crisis. The organization helps by becoming a bridge over turbulent situations and into a path of progression, often assisting families to come together through times of difficulty.

SafeHouse also works with the Riverside County Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, giving special aid and counseling to victims of human trafficking for children and adults.


SafeHouse has new additions to their long standing programs here in the Coachella Valley. The newly built Harrison House will provide transitional living for those 18-22, who need guidance into a stable life. The purpose of Harrison House is to help those who are no longer eligible for foster care, but who still need somewhere to go. Harrison House is on the SafeHouse property and is a collection of 16 furnished and fully equipped apartments with 22 bedrooms.

The residents of Harrison House have to pass certain criteria before being place in the program, including being clean from drugs and alcohol. The residents will learn life sustaining abilities while in the 18 month program which shows them how to live independently, everything from how to secure a job, to banking and even how to cook. The goal is to have the residents ready and able to be completely on their own with confidence by the time they exit the program. Harrison House will officially announce their opening in October, but recently has accepted a hand full of residents in September and already has a waiting list.

The other new addition to the SafeHouse is their new Schoolhouse. Built with all green technology, the building is budget friendly, only costing $180,000 of the projected $600,000 had they used traditional materials. The 3700 sq. ft. 2 classroom Schoolhouse, also located on property, is assembled with blocks (likened to giant Legos) that conserve energy, once cooled or heated; the blocks will absorb the introduced temperature, decreasing the amount of energy spent. The Schoolhouse also houses two large storage units for Harrison House residents.

The Harrison House and the Schoolhouse will have a Grand Opening on December 4th from 3-6pm. The occasion will also introduce the shelters new garden. Designed by Master Gardener Ray Zacharias (gardener for the Coors family in Colorado), the garden is an effort for the facility to be self-sufficient, as it will produce fresh vegetables and fruit for consumption of shelter residents. The residents of the Harrison House will also be able to work in the garden and nurture new skills as well.

The organization is also opening SafeHouse of the Desert Counseling Center. The center will be open to all ages, providing affordable counseling services for those who need it in the Coachella Valley. The counseling services are led by expert licensed therapists, specializing in the fields of depression, drug and alcohol abuse, and a variety of other mental health challenges.

The associated program, Cup of Happy, is also going strong this season, with continued outreach to the desert youths ages 16-25, helping to promote balanced healthy lifestyles and emotional stability through creative outlets such as their Open Mic nights.

The SafeHouse of the Desert is moving forward with all of their new programs, and a consistent light to kids who find themselves with nowhere to go. For them and for the community, we are fortunate that the SafeHouse of the Desert is there to help.

For more information about the SafeHouse of the Desert and how to donate or volunteer visit
To make an appointment for the Desert Counseling Center contact Kathy McMahon at .
To find out about Cup of Happy events find them on Facebook at