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 or clothing; and other times it has been a shoulder to cry on, a smile or someone to just listen.
I first heard about the Haven from a local judge when I was struggling to keep custody of my two grandsons. I knew that I would have to go to a homeless shelter if I wanted to keep custody of the boys. On February 7th, 2009 my boys and I moved into the ‘green room’ in the north pod at the Byrne House Family Shelter. The first day of living at the Haven was hard; I felt like I had lost control of my life. After three months of living at the Haven and working together with my case manager, Jodi, I had saved enough money to move my family into transitional housing. My life was now moving in the right direction!
Then on October 1, 2010 I was sexually assaulted in my apartment. I began seeing my assaulter’s face everywhere and had horrible nightmares. I decided to move the boys and myself to my sister’s house in Pennsylvania; but she soon kicked us out on the street just two days before Christmas. Because we weren’t residents of Pennsylvania, the state sent us back to Vermont where we stayed with a friend until I got a housekeeping job at a local hotel. My grandsons and I lived in one of the rooms until DCF found out I did not have permanent housing and took my grandsons from me and placed them in foster care.
I became extremely depressed and felt totally alone. The staff at the Haven noticed me struggling and asked if I would be interested in volunteering in the Clothing Room. The only thing I had was the Haven; and everyone there made me feel important, safe and secure. I would come every day I didn’t have to work and they really helped me get through the hard time. There was always a friend I could talk to; no one judged me for what I’d say or do; and Haven staff helped guide me in the right direction.
After months of saving money, Nancy Griffin, a community case manager at the Haven, helped me find an affordable two-bedroom apartment. Having stable housing allowed me to regain custody of my boys. I continued to work at a local hotel, volunteer at the Haven and sent my boys to the Haven’s After School Program. My life was back on track.
Then in November of 2012 I was diagnosed with cancer and thought I was going to die. The Haven helped me every step of the way providing meals, and care for my grandsons, while I went through chemo and then surgery. Luckily, doctors believe they were able to remove all of the cancer. Unfortunately, during surgery a nerve in my shoulder was damaged and now I am struggling to regain full use of my arm so that I can begin to work again in housekeeping at the hotel. I feel that there is nothing I can’t face when I have the Haven’s support. I’ve learned so much from staff and volunteers about setting goals, regaining self-esteem and becoming independent again. The Haven is my second family. Truly.
Doreen’s story is one of true strength and resilience. She volunteers in our Clothing Room and helps with communications mailings. Her grandsons are always her very first priority even as she struggles to stay healthy.
The Haven Through 40 Years
The Haven will commemorate its four decades of service to the region by releasing 40 stories of people, events, ideas, and services fundamental to our mission. We will be releasing these stories weekly, so check back often.