Staff live the Haven’s values, starting right at the front door
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why the Haven has paid particular attention to the staff serving in public-facing roles, including those who staff the reception desk and Food Shelf registration.
“When you think about it, you are the face of the Haven,” says Marti Eagle from her retirement home in Florida. Marti spent five years at the Haven’s front end, “You show the Haven’s values in the way you treat people. I loved all the different people that I met over the years. I got to know many of the regular visitors, and I got hugs from a lot of people. I loved that,” she says, “And I was continually amazed by the Haven’s staff—how caring and sensitive they are.”
One of those special staff members is Betsy McGuire, who handles registration for the Food Shelf. “It’s a good team effort,” she notes. “You have to recognize that people come to the Haven for all sorts of reasons. Many of them are under huge strain. Maybe they’ve lost their job, or they can’t pay the rent. How you treat our visitors makes a big difference.”
There is one regular Food Shelf visitor, for example, who is deaf. “I don’t know ASL so we’ve developed a system where we pass notes back and forth so I can make sure he gets what he needs.” And when she is registering a new family, Betsy pays special attention to the ages of any children. “I want to let them to know we have diapers and wipes, and to share information on benefits programs like 3SquaresVT and WIC” she says. “People need to feel that they’re valued and respected. We try to do a good job with that. It’s gratifying when people comment, ‘It feels so good to be here.’”
Though the front-facing roles are the most visible, Leslie Rimmer, the Haven’s Director of Organizational Development, observes that all staff are committed to treating each guest and visitor with dignity and respect. “To work here, you have to be someone who wants to make a difference in people’s lives,” Leslie concludes. Over the past 40 years, the Haven is incredibly fortunate that Betsy and Marti are but two in a long line of staff who have made that difference, from the reception desk to the shelter staff to Service Coordinators, and in each important interaction in-between.