In January of 1984, a local church organized The Women's Crisis Ministry in Hendersonville, NC to serve women dealing with crises such as divorce and widowhood. Around the same time, an organization adopting the name Mainstay was also formed with the mission of helping battered women. The two groups merged in 1985 and served 90 women in the first 18 months.
The Healing Place was established in 1986, operating as an outreach of the Rape Crisis Center of Buncombe County in Asheville. In the first year of operation, 40 clients were served.
In 1990, The Healing Place broke away from the Rape Crisis Center, incorporated, and on April 13, 1990 obtained its own 501c3 nonprofit status as Rape Crisis Center of Henderson County. Community support for the center was high. Referrals came from nonprofit agencies and schools across the county. Requests for educational programs came from civic organizations, churches and schools. Fundraisers were held to keep up with the growth of the center, including Burt Reynolds' one-man show for Friends of Rape Crisis Center of Henderson County at Flat Rock Playhouse. The center expanded to serve children as well as adult victims and a name change was in order: first doing business as The Healing Place: A Sexual Assault Response and Resource Center in the summer of 1991 and officially changing the name on October 24, 1996.
In 1997, The Healing Place was approached by FOCUS, the Child Advocacy Center of Henderson County, about possibly combining services. FOCUS served child victims of sexual abuse, so combining the two agencies streamlined services and allowed one agency to better serve clients of all ages. (In 2012, the Child Advocacy Center accreditation would be forfeited, but The Healing Place continued to provide crisis intervention, case management, court support and therapy to child victims and their non-offending families).
In 2007, Mainstay was approached by a group of local developers about the possibility of Mainstay trading the location on Main Street for a building on Fifth Avenue. This new location offered convenience to thrift store shoppers, and the safety of clients was enhanced by close proximity to law enforcement. The new building added 8,000 additional square feet of space. Mainstay moved into the new building in January of 2008.
In 2011, Mainstay rented the upper level of the adjoining building to expand shelter living space and create a Family Service Outreach Center for people to receive services such as group and outreach counseling. In 2012, Mainstay purchased the building and renovated the ground level of that building.
In May of 2013, Mainstay opened a job training facility, Dandelion Eatery, to address the gap with victims being able to return to the workforce and provide for their families. The program is designed to assist in building skills and experience to obtain lasting employment and sustainability.
In September of 2013, The Healing Place moved into the United Way building on Fifth Avenue and saved over $25,000 a year in occupancy and related costs.
In October of 2014, Mainstay and Pisgah Legal Services joined forces to create the Henderson County Family Justice Center (HCFJC) for victims of interpersonal violence. The center assists victims of interpersonal violence by providing a central location for easy access to services and resources. HCFJC assists in making the process of reporting violence and abuse less intimidating and more efficient for victims by co-locating available services and removing barriers that are inherent in the current multiple provider, multiple location system. The collaboration among partnering agencies at HCFJC enhances safety, efficiency and justice for victims of violence across our community.
During 2014, the conversation began to combine services provided by Mainstay and The Healing Place. Committees were formed and worked together to plan for how both agencies could come together. Both boards voted to merge into one organization in September of 2015.
In December 2015, the Believe Child Advocacy Center is opened. The Believe Child Advocacy Center provides services to children for interpersonal violence, sexual assault and adverse childhood experiences. Staff work with medical providers, law enforcement, Department of Social Services, the District Attorney's ofﬁce and additional partners to provide crisis intervention, conduct forensic interviews, medical exams and offer emotional support and counseling.
In 2016, Mainstay and The Healing Place merged, leaving Mainstay as the surviving agency. Together the organization became Safelight, Inc. with a new mission "creating hope, healing lives, changing community". The job training program expanded to include internship opportunities at the Safelight Resale Store.
In 2017, the Believe Child Advocacy Center gained national accreditation. The Sewing Our World Together was added where interns have the opportunity to learn to sew, make products and learn about running a business. The shelter was renovated to provide for private rooms instead of large dorms in order to help residents create stronger family bonds, feel less crowded and have quieter living spaces.
Currently, Safelight is expanding into a new location to provide a better space for therapy sessions.