Unique story shared by the community members we serve

Each person who comes in contact with the Haven—whether a former guest, staff member, volunteer or donor—has a unique story to share about what the Haven has meant to them in their life. We want to thank everyone who was brave enough to open their hearts and share their experiences with others for this webpage.
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Your Neighbor’s Pantry

The Upper Valley is a special place, and a lot of its unique charm comes from the value placed on connectedness within and between our towns and cities. This region’s listservs are one example of the area’s focus on neighborhoods, and more notably, our neighbors.

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Good Deeds Meet Needs: A Car for Sombot & Morgan

Last month, a donor approached the Haven about donating their Toyota Prius if it could be utilized by one of our clients. The donor explained, “We know how challenging it can be to have an independent life in the Upper Valley without a [...]

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Tom Scaled
Donor Impact: How Your Support Helped Tom

A Haven Community Service Coordinator recently assisted Tom with a housing voucher so that he could move into Twin Pines Housing’s new Tracy Street apartment complex in West Lebanon. Tom was born and raised in California, but has lived in [...]

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Motherhood & Poverty: Rose’s Journey

A single photo rarely captures a whole story, but it can capture a moment in time. In this photo, you see three people exuding happiness, pride, and accomplishment. A mom modeling hard work for her children, children looking up to someone setting [...]

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A Q&A with Michael Redmond

Michael Redmond started as the Haven's new Executive Director on October 15, 2018. Before he can meet the myriad supporters and partners of the Haven throughout the Upper Valley, we asked him to share a few things about himself with [...]

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Russell’s Next Chapter

On September 13, 2018, Russell received a small token with big meaning. That date was his two-year anniversary and the token was a sobriety chip at Alcoholics Anonymous. For such a small item, that coin represents more than meets the [...]

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Perspectives of the Laundromat

A personal reflection from Laura Gillespie, Director of Development and Communications at the Haven: Just before Christmas, I was preparing my home for the holiday influx of family and friend house guests. As I was making beds, changing and washing [...]

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Surviving Alcoholism

Russell enters the room with a warm greeting, slowly but steadily making his way to the table. He is slightly off-balance, but seems confident. You wouldn’t guess that he had a major surgery on his cervical spine in April 2017; [...]

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Perinatal Prep
Healthy Eating at Lebanon’s Perinatal Addiction Treatment Program

The Haven is known for going the extra mile to provide for those in need with what most of us believe are basic necessities. These needs (food, shelter, problem-solving, and information) are often taken for granted. But think for a [...]

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Spotlight on Community Partners

The Upper Valley Haven is grateful to the many community and state organizations with whom we partner to do our best work. In order to best serve our community members in need, we work closely with our brother and sister organizations to [...]

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Haven Gardens: Beautiful, Healthy and Safe

It wasn’t until 2004, when the new building which is now known as Byrne House was built, that the Haven had a formal landscape plan. Before that, Mary and Paul Feeney took care of the grounds surrounding the old farmhouse [...]

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A New Chapter

Terri was married for ten years. She and her husband had slipped into a pattern of drinking each day before and after work, and on weekends. Alcohol became their top priority. They got paid on Thursdays, and by Monday, they had spent most of their paychecks on their addiction.

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Garden Grow Kits

Throughout the year, Haven garden volunteers work behind the scenes to support the Haven grounds and gardens as well as our Food Shelf customers. Right now, a volunteer group led by master gardener Jane Metcalf is busy preparing Garden Grow Kits with seed packets that were donated to the gardening program.

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Tipping Points Grants

A little help goes a long way. That’s the underlying belief and message of the Tipping Points Grants program run by Partners for Community Wellness at Dartmouth-Hitchcock.

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Tuck School and Haven Children’s Programs

A group of graduate students from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth is helping to strengthen programs and services at the Haven. Led by Tuck Adjunct Professor Nan Stone as part of her class on managing for social impact, students have been reviewing the Children’s Services program at the Haven.

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Taking the Wheel

Take a few moments to consider this: what would your life be like without a car?

Imagine your weekday and weekend routines, and how your life would be different if you did not have a vehicle. People in poverty face these questions on a daily basis.

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19 Days of Norwich, Lyme, WRJ, Hanover & Beyond

Thank you. As a community, you have continued to step up again and again, year after year, to help people living in poverty in the Upper Valley. We’re grateful for your food and cash donations, volunteer hours, attendance at events, responses to special drives like for winter coats and blankets, and throughout it all, the energy and caring you demonstrate.

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Hulbert Outdoor Center Partnership

Children and staff in the Haven’s After-School Program are excited about a new collaboration that began this month with the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont and its InspiringKids program.

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King Arthur Flour

They are community-minded. They are generous. Founded 220 years ago in Boston, they have since grown into the nation’s premier baking resource, based right here in the Upper Valley. King Arthur Flour is located about 3 ½ miles down Route 5 from our campus, a proximity that has contributed to the strength of their partnership with the Haven.

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Two Weeks

Two weeks. It took me at least two weeks to believe I had finally landed in a safe place.

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Hunger Action Month

We are grateful for the community’s many contributions to Hunger Action Month in September! You got involved in so many ways—by organizing food drives to benefit people using our Food Shelf, giving to the Virtual Food Drive on our website, reading our Facebook posts, spreading the word among your family and friends, and participating in the nationwide selfie campaign.

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Rental 101

The Haven offers a range of optional programs and educational opportunities for people living in our adult and family shelters and those we work with in the community through service coordination. Program participation varies according to each person’s needs, goals, background, schedule, and interests. One of our programs, Rental 101, is so relevant for the population we serve that it is mandatory for all guests staying in our shelters.

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Open House Celebration with Artist Sabra Field

Welcoming all community members, volunteers, and friends of the Haven! Join us at the Haven on Sunday, November 13th from 2:00-4:00 pm for an open house celebration with renowned artist Sabra Field, creator of the Haven’s new logo.

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Caroline And Bill
Service Coordination – What Does It Really Mean?

The Haven provides food, shelter, educational programming, service coordination, and other resources to people struggling with poverty. The term “service coordination” can be puzzling and is sometimes not well understood by those outside the field of social services, yet it is a major part of what we do at the Haven. What does it mean exactly?

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An Unexpected Partnership

The Haven relies on a network of community partners in order to carry out its mission. Each partnership is unique.

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A Milestone They’ll Remember

Today marks an exciting milestone for Anne, one that she has worked hard to reach. Today she signs the lease on an apartment. She and her young son will finally have a home of their own.

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Summer Meal Sites

Summer is underway, and so are the programs that help all community members eat fresh and nutritious foods! Open summer meal sites that feed all children 18 and under, and farmers' markets that accept 3SquaresVT (SNAP) benefits are great ways to [...]

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Safe Haven

Have you ever lived in your home without water for a day or two, due to a water heater problem, frozen pipe or some other plumbing issue? Did you go to a friend or family member’s house or maybe the gym to take a shower? Do you remember feeling somewhat “off” that day because of the change in your routine?

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It’s Never Too Late (or Too Early) to Give Back

Every day at the Haven, we see examples of kindness and selfless giving from community members, donors, staff, service recipients, children, or others on our campus and in our work. This generosity extends to our shelter guests, many of whom express their eagerness volunteer or support the Haven in the future to repay what has been given to them. Some even start giving back while they are still staying with us.

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Teddy’s Holiday Toy Party

This is a difficult time of year for many families, as they juggle additional expenses like heating bills and winter repairs, or the need to stay home from work with a sick child. For parents who struggle to provide for [...]

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Ryan’s Story

I was in the reception area of the Haven at the end of a work day in May, gathering the courage to dash to my car in the middle of torrential downpour, when Ryan arrived.

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Dinner Time at Byrne

On a recent September evening, families at the Byrne House Family Shelter collaborated to create a dinner of chicken, rice and vegetable stir fry, green salad and brownies made from scratch.

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A “Haven Magic” Moment

When Joanna came to the Haven in need of clothes for work, we gave her a clothing voucher to use at the Listen Store. During the same visit, her service coordinator Tara noticed that she was wearing a flip flop that made her out of balance with the orthopedic boot she wore on her right leg.

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Jeremy’s Ticket Home

Enormous suitcase in hand, 55-year-old Jeremy arrived at the Haven after being out all night. He was greeted warmly by a Haven case manager, who listened as Jeremy explained the series of events that had brought him to the Haven’s doorstep.

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Community Pitches In

The VT state police brought Jeanne to the Haven after finding her in her broken-down car on the side of I-91. It was 10 below zero. Snow on the ground. She had a two-wheel trailer attached to her old vehicle, which looked like it was on its last legs. Jeanne wore a sleeveless dress and sneakers.

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My Future Life Story

Faith DuBois, Upper Valley Haven Shelter Staff Member, leads a Getting Ahead class in Ives Library at the Haven. “My future story begins today. I have struggled my whole life, and made some poor decisions; but today, and my future [...]

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The Magic of Partnerships

Alice came to the Haven after her Vietnam era veteran husband passed away. She and her adult son were struggling.

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Doreem
Priceless

“They are doing well in school because the Haven’s After School Program taught them both how to read…”

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Safe And Warm
Safe & Warm

Clare came to the Haven in the bitter cold — homeless — carrying her infant son and everything she owned. She had almost nothing; and no time, space or focus to put her life back together. At the Haven she could breathe again knowing she had a roof over her son’s head, and a place to call HOME.

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Rising Above

Sofia has a disabling condition, but that doesn’t stop her from helping others rise above adversity, enjoying life to its fullest and warming the hearts of everyone around her!

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Sheltered Gems

Often, when a homeless person comes into The Upper Valley Haven, he or she comes with the clothes they are wearing and possibly a few personal things. This winter, a young boy brought along a seemingly insignificant item. But, in a setting of safety and sharing, it was discovered that he actually had something extremely precious. Read on to see just how priceless it was….

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To Work or Not to Work

Consider this. A woman is an independent contractor; a computer consultant based out of her home. She gets divorced, and is the one chosen by the court to keep the family house. But, the property expenses, including the mortgage, are too much for her to afford. She eventually ends up losing her home, and moving in with one of her children until she can get back on her feet. But that situation becomes untenable for her daughter. Why?

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Welcome Back

Last month a former shelter guest who stayed with us 30 years ago came back to the Haven for a visit. He had stayed with us in the little farmhouse (Hixon House adult shelter now sits on part of its original foundation today) back in 1984 after the place he was staying in Royalton had burned down.

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Opening Doors, Closing Gaps

Homeless. It’s an evocative word, one that conjures up images of a dirty, shaggy‐bearded man, a wild look in his eye, muttering to people only he can see as he pushes a shopping cart laden with soda cans and plastic bags around city streets, passersby giving him a wide berth. But that stereotype masks a truer picture of homelessness.

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Observations from the Parking Lot

On any given day the Haven is abuzz with tremendous activity. Sitting on the wall outside the front door and watching the comings and goings in the parking lot gives a strong overall sense of all that is going on.

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The Answer When Nothing Makes Sense

A month or so ago, Lia invited my daughter for a sleepover at her house in Norwich. In between devouring homemade pumpkin pie Addie had made with homegrown pumpkins, camping on the trampoline outside for the night, the usual girl giggles, and making crafts, they decided to do a fundraiser for the Haven.

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What is important anyway?

A couple came in to the Haven to ask for a small amount of help to move into an apartment. Both are alcoholics; and have been in recovery, and married, for over a year. They were charming in that they obviously loved each other; and were so grateful for that, their extended families and their sobriety.

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The T-Shirt Stories

The Haven’s T shirt collection is a representation of the Haven itself: a place where different lives that would not ordinarily touch have come together. When you enter the Clothing Room at the Haven and start to browse through the racks of T shirts, you begin to see the amazing representation and expressions of people’s lifestyles and ponder the special life scenarios of memorable events and personal passions.

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Health & Poverty

I moved up to the area three years ago to be closer to Dartmouth Hitchcock, because its doctors were the only ones that were able to identify my brain aneurisms and treat me afterward. I had to quit my job due to my health issues, and became overloaded with medical bills; I was struggling to get by.

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Irving & Nancy

Poverty is a precarious and expensive situation, with little room for error, and just about everything at stake. “If Nancy hadn’t taken Irving to the hospital when she did, he would have most likely died from his ankle infection.”

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Homeless in West Lebanon?

Have you ever noticed the people standing near the off ramp of highway 89 in West Lebanon, or in the Walmart parking lot, asking for help through messages written on cardboard signs? In rural areas like the Upper Valley homelessness […]

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Those Who Care

Stan and Joe — two of the Haven’s most gracious visitors — placed a box at the bus stop in front of the Haven so that folks who would otherwise throw garbage on the ground have a better option. “I […]

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Lorrie’s Story

Lorrie came to the Haven after bouncing from couch to couch at the homes of her children. Once she got into the Haven her Case Manager, Caroline, helped her sign up for Medicaid and apply for food stamps. Several months earlier, Lorrie had quit her job at McDonald’s because she wasn’t able see very well or stand for long periods of time.

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Paycheck to Paycheck

In February, Heidi came to the Haven in a panic when her pay check was stolen. With her job at a local fast food restaurant, Heidi was living paycheck to paycheck. Having her paycheck stolen meant that she would come […]

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Leo

I grew up with two deaf parents in tough times in Somerville, MA. As a teenager, I was constantly getting into trouble; stealing cars and drinking too much. I grew up very quickly on the streets. When I went into the military, I grew up the other way; I became a man. While in the military, I became injured. A flying rock hit me in the head and landed me in the hospital for two months. That was the path that started me on my life-long battle with pain medication.

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Moving on

When my last of three children left for college it was hard. Everything started to crumble; I started drinking again; I stopped taking my medications; and I lost my steady job of 17 years. I had raised three girls on my own, and when they left I no longer had to be responsible. I had more time to go out and party, and stopped focusing on constructive things. This led to my roommate telling me he couldn’t put up with me anymore.

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Pay It Forward
Pay it Forward (taken from a letter the Haven received with a $100 donation)

“I took my daughter to school down in Boston and got stuck for a few days because of the snowstorm right after New Year’s. My sons and husband were home alone; and low and behold I got a phone call […]

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Brenda

Brenda Hatch came to Hixon House in August, 2013. After enduring multiple physical, verbal, and emotionally abusive relationships, a divorce left her stranded with a car and 67 cents in her pocket. She arrived at the Haven with no employment […]

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From Warming Shelter to Hixon House

It was February 26th and freezing outside. I went to the only safe place I knew: the Upper Valley Haven. As I bawled my eyes out, I came in to talk with Haven Community Case Manager Tara. I lost everything . . .job, housing, everything . . . because of my drug addiction, and

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Anyone Can Become Homeless

Many people think “I’ll never be homeless”. But on Wednesday, March 5th Haven volunteer and Norwich resident, Judy Pond lost her home to a severe fire with flames estimated to be at least 18 to 20 feet high.  Unforeseen disaster […]

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Nancy Griffin
Homelessness and Furry Friends

James was suffering from severe depression and self-medicating with alcohol. His coping method of drinking caused his roommate to kick him and his dog out of their apartment. His roommate wanted him to leave immediately so James went to stay […]

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Can a broken headlight lead to homelessness?

Amber was visibly embarrassed and near tears when she asked a Haven Community Services case manager for help paying rent. “I’m already behind on rent. If I don’t pay this month, they’re going to evict me,” she explained. “I have […]

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Dinner At Hixon House By James Patterson Of The Valley News
Cherkee

The lesson I learned at the Haven was when I didn’t think I could take one more step, I forced myself to face the world, smile, and put myself last and other people first…but the first step in anyone’s life is face your woes in life. Go with the kindness you would want from other people and with that in mind doors will open.

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When Food Stamps Don’t Make Sense

“When my husband lost his job at DHMC he stayed home with our two young children (and my eldest who is a teen), and I supported our family with my steady job. Then, everything fell apart. I had to have […]

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Down in Poverty

One day at age 52 I woke up with no place to live, no job, a car that was going to get repossessed and sixty-seven cents! I was devastated. My grandson’s 7th birthday was coming up and Grammie Brenda would […]

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In Honor of Rose

We recently received this note from a supporter and friend: The small check for the Food Shelf is in honor of my friend Rose – a 31-year-old single mother who did some gardening for me for a year. She is […]

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Four Stories

Watch this video of four short stories from community members that use the Haven’s services…

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Sarah’s Story

I learned of the Haven as I was leaving the sober House where my four-year old son and I were living. We had no place to go. We were homeless.

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Bagels are a Big Deal

“My daughter really wanted a bagel today when we were paying for gas at the station. I barely had the change to scrape together to pay for it. I bought it for her, she took two bites, and then she […]

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My Journey Started at the Haven

My experience with poverty is tied very strongly to an episode of major depression that began to rear it’s ugly head near the end of 2009. I had started a business in 2008 that was failing; and I was very […]

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“The water is waist high! We have to evacuate.”

“My fiancé, our one-and-a-half-year-old daughter and I moved into the Rivermere apartments two weeks before the flooding on July 2nd.  The night of July 1st the power went out and one of the buildings had water.  Our neighbors said it […]

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Rafael Graduation
Graduation

As a young boy of just 5 years, Rafael came to the Haven with his mother to seek shelter. They stayed in what was then the Haven farmhouse until they were able to get an apartment of their own. Since […]

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Doreen & Her Boys

Without the Haven, my boys and I would not be where we are today. Through all of my ups & downs the Haven has always been there to help me. Sometimes it has been a roof over my head, food […]

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A new Haven Video… Hidden in Plain Sight

If you can’t see the video, click here.

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As you give, so you receive

My name is Ally Ledoux and I am a volunteer for the food shelf at the Haven. It is a wonderful place, helping so many people in so many ways. But, I would like to tell you about my experience […]

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Rafael

Rafael came to the Haven with his mother when he was just 5 years old. Though their journey was trying and difficult, they found solace and stability at the Upper Valley Haven. Through their stay

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Receive. Grow. Give.

While I am volunteering at the Haven you will see me with a smile on my face – I know how much a smile can make a difference in someone’s day. It mattered a lot to me when I lived for a short while at the Haven when I was a child.

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Thankfulness

In the spirit of gratitude, Haven guests, staff and volunteers were invited to participate in sharing what they are thankful for this year. Here are a few of the anonymous comments…

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Hope, Perseverance and Resilience

Darlene’s story is one of hope, perseverance and resilience. It demonstrates quite beautifully the strength that we often find within us in the face of tragedy. In January 2011, Darlene’s oldest daughter, Michelle was diagnosed with ALS. Darlene remembers feeling scared and angry when she found out, but she held on to her faith and still firmly believes that there is a purpose to what has happened to their family.

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The Fixer at Hixon House

In the last few months, John Caswell lost the apartment he lived in for 14 years, became homeless, and spent nights sleeping on a park bench in downtown Lebanon. Lucky him.
I say that because Caswell’s misfortune led him to Hixon House, the Upper Valley Haven’s shelter for homeless adults in Hartford, where, along with getting a roof over his head and hot meals, he was matched up with Caroline Swaney.

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Optimism

Jack, a shelter guest at Hixon House at the Haven, walks up with a smile on his face, his unfailingly positive attitude readily apparent to all who meet him. Before the recession, Jack owned his own house for twelve years. He was a landlord and rented out apartments, worked at car dealerships and enjoyed a comfortable income. In 2008 Jack lost his job because the company he worked for closed. He lived on unemployment for a couple of years, while he took care of his ill mother, until it ran out. Soon after he was forced to leave the apartment that he had by then moved into.

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Gratitude

Brooke had been living and working in New Hampshire for about five years when she had her first encounter with the Upper Valley Haven. She had recently freed herself from an abusive relationship. Then suddenly, due to an injury, she found herself out of work. Under different circumstances, she probably would have taken her misfortune and done with it what she had always done; she would have gotten high and disappeared into oblivion. But this time…

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