SafeHaven shelter in Arlington gets synthetic turf for a new place to play

ARLINGTON -- The new springy green field surrounded by shade trees at SafeHaven of Tarrant County's Arlington shelter is more than just a patch of artificial turf.

It's a safe, inviting place where the hundreds of abused women and children who stay at the emergency shelter each year can relax outdoors and have fun.

"Children who grow up in homes with domestic violence have often been robbed of their childhood," said Mary Lee Hafley, CEO of SafeHaven of Tarrant County. "What kids learn from free play is how you make up rules, how you cooperate, how you resolve your disagreements without anger and violence."

The Synthetic Turf Council, a nonprofit trade association, was seeking a Dallas-Fort Worth agency to which it could donate a turf play field for its second annual community outreach project.

The Arlington shelter, which has only a small playground, was selected after recommendations by the Dallas Cowboys and the Arlington Police Association, officials said.

SafeHaven of Tarrant County can serve a combined 174 women and children a day at its Arlington and Fort Worth locations.

"We're very fortunate to have found an organization like SafeHaven that we could thank in this way for all they do," said Rick Doyle, Synthetic Turf Council president.

Children at SafeHaven celebrated completion of the donated 5,700-square-foot field Tuesday by kicking soccer balls, tossing footballs and jumping rope on the soft carpet.

"You can tell your friends this field is just like the ones the Dallas Cowboys play on," John Giraud, the turf council's board chairman, told children at the shelter.

Hafley said the nonprofit hopes to add benches and other amenities, such as a walking trail, as funding becomes available.

Susan Schrock, 817-709-7578

Twitter: @susanschrock