Joani Shaver is in the Chat Room

Joani Shaver

Joani Shaver

Age: 59

Occupation: Executive director of Haven House

Family: Husband Ben Shaver is a Hospice nurse. They have two sons, Brian Good, 32, who lives in Madison, Wis., where he works as a TV meteorologist; and Steve Good, 29, who lives in Salt Lake, Utah, has a degree in business and works at Backcountry.com, an Internet sporting goods company.

Joani Shaver has been executive director with Haven House for two years. She was previously manager of a learning program at the University of Utah. After her husband took a new job at a medical center in Monterey, Calif., and they saw how high taxes were becoming, the couple decided they wanted to live in a log house in a place that had a lower cost of living.

“We knew we weren’t going to stay there,” Shaver says. “We wanted a log home, and when we were looking, there were 38 log homes for sale around Knoxville. We bought one in Maryville. Our friends in Utah thought we were nuts moving with no job. It was a leap of faith.”

Shaver says working with Haven House has definitely been a learning experience for her. While she picked up non-profit organization experience when she worked for 10 years as director of a Big Brothers Big Sisters program, she didn’t have experience dealing with domestic violence.

“Learning about domestic violence and how prevalent it is in Blount County was really eye-opening. We are above the national average. Nationally, one out of every four women are domestic violence survivors. Here it is one out every three. That’s an incredibly high statistic,” she said.

Shaver said domestic violence has a far reach. “It touches everybody you run into. A lot of men are touched as children as they grow up in violent homes. It impacts our community in a big way. It’s one of those nasty private matters people don’t talk about, and it won’t stop until we all step up and say we’re not going to tolerate the violence.”

Shaver said Haven House has been working in high schools trying to stop domestic violence before it starts. “We’re piloting a program at William Blount High School showing what a healthy relationship looks like and what an unhealthy one looks,” she says.

Many of the issues Haven House helps solve involve housing, employment and childcare.

“We do a lot of case management, finding out what their goals are, where they want to be in five years and helping them develop and work a plan,” she says.

When Shaver isn’t working, she’s probably tooling around the five-acre hobby farm she and her husband own, tending to their many animals or riding her motorcycle.

They have a “menagerie” of animals. “Our cows are Biscuits and Gravy, our cats are Buster and Keaton, our dogs are Daisy and Duke and our rabbits are Bugs and Bunny. We have a garden, we camp and hike, but a big attraction is we both ride motorcycles. This is the place to ride motorcycles. We do lot of riding and it’s a lot of fun.”

Here is Joanie Shaver:

Who are you most like, your mother or your father and why?

“My personality is like my dad, but a lot of my ‘ways’ mimic my mom. As a daughter, my dad was always my hero.”

What is your favorite quote from television or a movie?

“Feelin’ lucky, punk?”

How do you like your steak cooked?

“Medium rare.”

What are you guilty of?

“Trying to do too many things at once.”

What is your favorite material possession?

“My wedding ring.”

What are you reading currently?

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

What was your most embarrassing moment?

“Taping the pages of music together in the wrong order while accompanying a very large church choir at an Easter service. That was a disaster. I start sweating again just thinking about it. It was a nightmare, mainly because I didn’t know that’s what I had done. I was a professional organist for 17 years.”

If you only had a week to live, what would you do and why?

“Gather my family and friends around me and have a week-long party.”

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?

“Friend - guess I know how to pick ‘em and how to keep ‘em. Building relationships is what living is all about.”

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

“Be 4 inches taller so I wouldn’t have to lose weight.”

What is your passion?

“Making a difference in the world. I’ve been lucky most of my life to be in position to be allowed to do that.”

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?

“Gary Larsen, ‘Far Side’ cartoonist. My husband gets jealous. I tell him, ‘No dear, you don’t understand. I’d love to hear just his take on things.’ His take on things is way out there. It’s hilarious.”

If a movie were made about your life, who would play you and why?

“ I’d have to play myself. I’m one of a kind.”

What is the best present you ever received in a box?

“A pair of rubber barn boots last Christmas. I’d go trudging through all this mud at the barn. They’re very useful. They’re something I would never buy myself.”

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

“Save for tomorrow.”

In the workplace, would you rather be powerful or popular?

“A balance of the two. I think power without respect or relationships is really meaningless. It’s not really about being popular as much as being respected.”

Who is your hero?

“Anyone with a disability who has a positive attitude and makes a difference in the world.”

Do you Myspace, Facebook or Twitter?

“Facebook. I’m a Tweeting failure and have never visited MySpace.”

What’s the worst job you have ever had?

“Working at a livestock auction as a teen. It stunk in every sense of the word. The only thing good about it was the staff made really good hamburgers. I would work after school until about 7 or 8 at night. They had a grill where all the people ate. They made really good hamburgers. That is the only thing I remember that was positive. I worked and paid my mom $5 a week for the sewing machine she bought me.”

What is your theme song that best describes you?

“ ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.’ I’m an optimist. I think that’s important in the kind of work I’ve done. You never give up and always have hope for people and for yourself.

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