Hope Haven Director wants Intrinsic Peace for All

By Wendy Pollitzer

Featured in The Island News

May 6, 2010

Shauw Chin Capps

Shauw Chin Capps is an extraordinary woman, with goals set high and met beyond expectations.  Capps is the Executive Director of Hope Haven of the Lowcountry, Beaufort’s Children’s Advocacy and Rape Crisis Center.

Hope Haven provides comprehensive services, which help promote healing for adult and child victims of rape, sexual assault and incest. Its mission is to increase the community’s awareness of these issues through education and outreach.

For Capps, directing Hope Haven is the exemplary career. Her experience as Case Manager for a Rape Crisis Center and Program Director for a Child Abuse Prevention Agency, both in Louisville, KT gives Capps the opportunity to share her knowledge with the citizens of Beaufort County.

I met with Capps last Thursday at her office, and immediately commented on the lighting in her office. It was a hectic day, and I was starting to get a midday headache; but as I walked into Hope Haven’s headquarters, my mood was pacified. I was not only soothed with the calm atmosphere, but also the relaxed staff. It takes very special people to fulfill the obligations of this dedicated group. And Capps leads her staff of nine with grace, dignity and lots of knowledge.

The issue of justice has always been near and dear to Shauw Chin’s heart. She takes an interest for those with no voice and those shunned by society. And she truly believes that each and every victim deserves professional quality service, and when this service is no longer needed, then she’ll be the first to celebrate.

Capps was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. The youngest of four girls, Shauw Chin and her family moved to Singapore when she was 5.  Her parents, who made great sacrifices to insure their girls would have quality educational opportunities, knew that Singapore would offer a competitive, academic culture.

And again, when the girls entered college, Capps’ parents knew that the U.S would be the best place for their children to attend college. In this predominantly English-speaking world, the U.S. would offer the best opportunities for Capps and her sisters.

Capps began her undergrad at Indiana University, but transferred and received her degree from Baylor University with a B.A. in Social Work. She later earned her Master’s Degree from the Carver School of Church Social Work at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary School in Louisville.

Her first internship was with a juvenile detention center. She worked with teenaged boys incarcerated, and, at some point in their lives, abused. This job opened her eyes to the inequities of abused children. She began to understand the intrinsic value of each person. As she spoke to most of these boys, she began to see their vulnerability and comprehend the circumstances surrounding each case. She was deeply moved by this first experience.

Her second internship was with a Planned Parenthood Center that provided free medical care and preventative education that certain demographics would otherwise not be able to afford. And, unlike the public’s perception of this particular center, it was not a facility that offered abortions. Yet, threats still came.

This experience made Capps very aware of different worldviews. It also made her realize that our world was not just black and white.  This internship became a turning point in Capps’ life, and she began to develop her personal faith.

Subsequently, she became less judgmental and truly saw more good in this world than evil. She began to see the world as gray. And she knew that each person comes with a story and individual struggles unlike anyone else on the planet.  Simply stated by Capps, “Every person has value.”

She knew then what she wanted to do in life: help those who couldn’t help themselves. Even as a little girl, Capps said she questioned why some people had more than others and some had so much less. She moved from a third world country to a very developed nation, so she saw first hand extreme socioeconomic differences. She was very disturbed by the Haves and the Have-Nots.

So Capps started her career. Her first job at a Rape Crisis Center challenged her established belief system. She was faced with so much evil as a case manager, meeting men and women daily with horrific stories, yet giving them no easy answers. But, she walked beside them, listened to their stories and helped them cope with their struggles. Capps provided the needed hope and comfort these victims needed. And, in the process, learned quite a bit about justice, and sometimes, lack thereof.

Five years later, Capps moved to another non-profit at a Child Abuse Prevention Center. She worked as a Program Director for at-risk mothers. She went into people’s houses and, regardless of circumstances, listened to the common hopes and dreams of these children.  She witnessed honest resiliency in children when they were given pure nurturing love from caregivers.  She was humbled by the surviving nature of children when given the support of caring parents after incidents of abuse.

In 1995, Shauw Chin married Paul Capps. They’d known each other since childhood. Paul was the son of missionaries from the Baptist Church of Beaufort, Janice and Roger Capps, who lived in Singapore. The two met when they were teenagers at a Youth Group, but didn’t date until college back in the States.

They vacationed in Beaufort with their first child, Phoebe (10) and loved it!  When Paul’s parents retired to Beaufort, and Shauw Chin and Paul got pregnant with her second child, Lydia (6), they decided to also move to Beaufort for familial support.

Shauw Chin sent out 1 resume to the United Way. Sharon Stewart, then Board Chairwoman of Hope Cottage was impressed with Capps’ resume and immediately called for an interview.  In August of 2003, Paul and Shauw Chin moved to Beaufort. They unpacked on a Saturday and Capps started work on a Monday.

She started with three staff members in the infancy of the merger of the Rape Crisis Center and the Children’s Advocacy Center, which became Hope Haven.  She made significant changes, recruited a new Board, more than doubled her budget in 3 years and met criteria to become nationally accredited. Now that’s impressive.

Hope Haven provides a one-stop shop for the victim and facilitates the process for all agencies involved in a case. State-of-the-art forensic interviewing allows investigative, prosecutorial and treatment teams timely and coordinated response to all reported cases, all under one roof. And for the victim, this is essential.

Hope Haven provides 24/7 crisis intervention. A Victim’s Advocate will provide hospital and court accompaniment and assistance as needed.  Counseling and Support Groups are also available.

So Shauw Chin Capps is responsible for an indispensable component of our community. She sees the tough circumstances daily, yet continues to make progress for Beaufort County residents unfortunately referred to Hope Haven.

Last year, Hope Haven saw 512 cases of direct victims and 547 cases of secondary victims (loved ones, children), which was an astonishing 25% more than 2008. The numbers are not slowing down either.

Hope Haven is grant-funded. All of their services are provided at no cost, with disregard of the victim’s wealth or background. And, as the numbers go up, so does the budget.

Each year, Hope Haven presents Lilies on the River. It is a unique event that remembers and honors the women in your life who have made a positive impact through mentoring, nurturing or caring.  Lilies can be purchased for a tax deductable $10 and released at a ceremony on the water at Berkeley Hall in Bluffton on Mother’s Day, May 8th.  A luncheon and champagne toast will follow. Of course, all proceeds benefit Hope Haven of the Lowcountry. For more information about Lilies on  the River or to order a Lily online, visit www.hopehavenlc.org.

Shauw Chin Capps is doing work that needs to be done. And she honestly believes, with all her heart that that every child can lead a productive life after treatment of abuse. Even though they can’t forget, Hope Haven empowers each victim to cope. Shauw Chin has the hope that people will recover.

And that’s why I believe Shauw Chin Capps is an angel on Earth.  She guides those in need to a place from within that is safe and comfortable.  She is motivated to instill intrinsic peace for all. That is truly heroic.

It was an honor to meet you Shauw Chin. Thank you for protecting our children in Beaufort County. You are the right person for this demanding position, and I certainly feel safe with you there.

About Wendy

Wendy Pollitzer is a versatile writer living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

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