B.A., Denison University
M.A., Vanderbilt University, Divinity School
Citation awarded June, 2001
Martha Garner Albers has distinguished herself in community service in her hometown of Poplar Bluff, Missouri. She is one of those rare individuals whose vision and commitment over the years makes an extraordinary difference in a community and the lives of its people.
After graduating from Denison Phi Beta Kappa, Martha earned the Master of Arts in Theology from Vanderbilt University Divinity School in 1954. She spent much of her career in the teaching profession at several colleges. However, it was in 1984 that Martha embarked upon a project that was to become her long-term mission over the coming years. She and several other women recognized the critical need in their hometown for a shelter for battered women. Against the odds and after several years’ intensive organizing, advocacy, and fund-raising, they successfully launched Haven House.
Fourteen years later, Haven House is a thriving organization serving a five-county area. An average of seventeen women and children are housed in the facility per night. In 2000, a total of 950 persons were served. The organization provides childcare classes, counseling, and employment assistance. In addition to residential services, it offers alternatives to domestic violence using strategies such as peer support groups, educational programs, children’s services, court advocacy, and a toll-free hot line. The facility employs seven full-time staff and depends on extensive volunteer participation.
Martha has served on the Board of Haven House from its inception, at which time she was Chair. Her work was recognized in 1988 when she was honored as a “Bell Volunteer of the Year” by the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company and the Greater Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce. Martha reports that her involvement with her church has been a lifelong joy, and that currently she serves in a church program as a volunteer chaplain at a local hospital. She has also volun-teered for a number of other organiza¬tions as well, including Vanderbilt University and Denison University, where she is a member of the 50th Reunion Committee for the Class of 1951.
Martha and her husband David are the parents of four grown children: an attorney, a banker, a physician, and a pastor. The Alberses have six grandchildren.