Does the Haven make a difference? This is a question we’re often asked, and I’ve thought about it in my brief time in my new role. Here’s how I think about the answer: We know we support over 14,500 people a year through our programs. On an average day, between 250 and 400 people walk through our front door seeking a hot meal, access to the Food Shelf, shelter, or intensive support while living in the community. The Food Shelf contributes to improved food security for over 1,400 families and households each month; this represents over 4,000 of our friends and neighbors. More than 125 people will stay in our residential shelter programs knowing for that night they have a roof over their heads and can hope for a more secure future. Our community service coordinators will each help hundreds of people navigate complex systems and gain access to essential programs and supports.
Of course, every one of these numbers represents individual lives and families, each with a story of challenge, change, insecurity, resiliency, and—with the support of the Haven, our staff, volunteers, and donors—hope and possibility.
Not every person who walks through our doors will achieve a sustainable and secure future the first time. Sometimes the problems are too overwhelming. But if they are able to receive the support they need for a day or a week and they begin to make a connection with a program or staff members, this is a difference worth noting.
Often, however, we can see the tangible impact of our work and feel positive about the difference we make. Just before the Christmas holiday, I had a phone call that reassures me of this fact. The voice on the other end of the call was a young girl, Leah. Leah told me that she is a fourth grader in the local elementary school. She wanted to know if it would be all right if her class adopted the Haven for its “Make a Difference” project. The class would find ways it could help the organization it selected by making posters and even videos to tell the story of its work. Leah was nominated by her class to call me to obtain some facts about what we do, how many people we serve, when we began to help people.
I gladly thanked Leah for calling and provided the information she asked for. Before hanging up, I had to ask her why her class had selected the Haven for its project from all the organizations that help people in the Upper Valley. And Leah told me that we were nominated by one of her classmates who used to live here in the family shelter. We provided a home for her family when they had nowhere to go. And we had helped them find a new home where she lives today. Her classmate thought we were the best organization to choose because we had really made a difference for her family.
As one year ends and another begins, I offer my best wishes to all of you. With your help and support, the Haven will continue to help people find hope and discover possibility.
And make a difference.