Human Options began with three leaders – Vivian Clecak, LCSW, Director of the Orange County Department of Mental Health in South Orange County, Carolyn Churm, Chairman of the Mental Health Advisory Board, and Margaret Thoreau, Vice Chairman, taking the lead in learning about domestic violence in Orange County. Stunned by the stories they heard from clients and the awareness that one in four women is a victim of domestic violence at some point in her life, they dedicated themselves to making a difference.
They began their journey by incorporating Human Options in Laguna Beach in 1979. In 1981 a fourth founder, Anne Wright, joined them and Vivian as founding director took on the role of raising funds and starting a hotline for women in crisis. One year later, October 1982, they had raised $78,000 through foundation grants and individual gifts, and opened the first battered women’s shelter in South Orange County. Over the years, Human Options has grown from a small grassroots agency to a multi-service, countywide program which breaks the cycle of domestic violence at every stage through safety, healing, and a way forward.
From its earliest days, Human Options has always been committed to innovation. We began the first domestic violence prevention program for teens in local high schools in 1984 and the first transitional housing program in Orange County in 1993. We developed the only program in Orange County dedicated to serving seniors who are victims of family violence. We have been leaders in partnerships for early intervention and prevention. Our educational programs have impacted major health systems, and our legal advocacy program guides clients through complex legal issues. From the beginning we provided counseling programs for women and children and we have continued to strengthen our services to help clients heal from the trauma of domestic violence. Today, our mission and vision remain strong.
Mission: Human Options provides safe haven and life changing programs to help abused women, their children and families rebuild their lives – and works with the community to break the cycle of domestic violence.
Vision: A world in which no woman or child should ever feel afraid in her/his home.
To date we have served:
More than 29,400 individuals in our counseling and shelter programs
More than 62,600 hotline callers and crises
More than 314,600 individuals in our prevention programs