Hello and Thank You

The Women’s Center, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, community based organization funded by state, federal and local grants, United Way, individual and community donations, and special project fundraising. We are dedicated to serving the women and families. Established in 1973, the Women’s Center, Inc. serves Alger and Marquette counties.

What We Do

The Women’s Center, Inc. serves all women, men, and children who are or have experienced domestic or sexual violence, dating violence or stalking. We are based in Alger and Marquette counties but our services are for all persons that have been affected by domestic or sexual violence, regardless of where they live, if they seek our services and qualify for our programs. All services are free and confidential.

We provide:

  • 24/7 Emergency crisis intervention
  • 24/7 Crisis counseling
  • Emergency shelter
  • Information on domestic and sexual violence, dating violence and stalking
  • Support groups for adults and youth
  • Housing advocacy
  • Transitional housing support
  • Resources for assistance

For 40 more than years, it has been our mission to support survivors, to increase public awareness and to change the attitudes which allow these violent crimes to continue.

Who we serve

The Women’s Center and Harbor House Shelter serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence, dating violence and stalking. Services are provided to adults, teens and children in Marquette and Alger Counties.

Since 1973, it has been our mission to support survivors, to educate and encourage sensitive public awareness and to work relentlessly to change the attitudes that allow these violent crimes to continue. The Women’s Center works to empower individuals and families experiencing domestic violence, sexual violence, dating violence and stalking by providing outreach support services, information, referrals, advocacy and the safe haven shelter at Harbor House.

Women’s Center programs help locate affordable housing and adequate employment, and put safety precautions in place for women and children fleeing domestic and sexual violence. During the last fiscal year, the Harbor House and Women’s Center staff and volunteers helped 2,904 people escape domestic and/or sexual violence.

Trained volunteers provided 12,316 hours of time in direct service to survivors at the Harbor House and in service to the entire organization. You can help out by volunteering.


When the book, The Feminine Mystique, hit the newsstands in 1963, it raised troubling questions. Local women began to gather in homes for consciousness-raising meetings.  For the first time, many realized they were willing to fight for the rights of all women and encourage each other to be all they could be.

The inspiration was contagious. A group approached Northern Michigan University about establishing a Women’s Center on campus. The first step was hosting a women’s conference on campus: “The Changing Role of Women in the 70s.” An outcome was the establishment of a Women’s Center as a department in the Division of Continuing Education in 1973. An immediate focus was career advisement to help women enter nontraditional, high-paying jobs.

The Women’s Center remained on the NMU campus until 1980. During those years, programs were established with collaborative and community partnerships that included the Joan Curto Halfway House for Chemically Dependent Women, the Spouse Abuse Shelter, and the Sexual Assault Response volunteer team. Before there was a physical Spouse Abuse Shelter, women in the community took domestic violence victims and their children into their own homes.

Before the Sexual Assault Response Team was established, rape victims had no advocates to help them through the hospital and legal system. Hospitals had no rape-evidence kits for use later in court.

The 1980s saw a move from NMU to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Guild Hall. The focus broadened to a community-based center and nonprofit status was obtained. Programming expanded to include school-age prevention and education, self-defense training and continued career advisement. Women’s Center counselor Barbara Belew established support programs for child survivors of sexual assault and incest.

In 1986, the current administrative building was purchased on Front Street in Marquette. State Representative Dominic Jacobetti and the Marquette Labor Council provided significant support, and a weekly on-site bingo game generated financial support.  A notable achievement was national recognition for refusing to turn over a rape survivor’s file that was subpoenaed. The refusal went all the way to the State Supreme Court. Advocacy and education services were expanded into Ishpeming and Munising. Funding was received from the federal Centers for Disease Control to support a Community Coordinated Response to Domestic and Sexual Violence initiative. New programming included Teen PEP, or peer-to-peer domestic violence and sexual abuse education and awareness through skits and role-playing.

The Women’s Center PakRatz Resale Shop—a profit center within a nonprofit organization—was relocated within the building. Each person from Harbor House receives a PakRatz voucher for clothing, shoes and household goods. PakRatz accepts donations of clothing, accessories, household goods and furniture. The resale shop is open to the public and all proceeds support the Women’s Center programs and services.