A Message from Michael: The Future of the Haven

Dear Friends,

Next year is the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Haven. While much has changed in these past four decades—growth of programs that now reach over 14,500 people annually, 48 staff, a $3.5 million operating budget, extensive community support represented by 3,000 donors and over 400 volunteers, and expansion to three buildings on our Hartford Avenue campus and many community programs—the Haven remains true to its core values of welcoming all who enter our doors as equals, respecting their dignity, and accepting them without judgment.

At the end of October, the Haven’s Board of Directors and the Senior Team met in a retreat to focus on our future. It is an auspicious time for the Haven. We’ve just completed a special fundraising campaign to honor our previous Executive Director, Sara Kobylenski, which met its goal of raising $1.2 million. These funds will be used over the next three to four years for strategic investments in our staff, programs, and campus. The Haven continues to excel as an invaluable resource of the Upper Valley and provide essential services of food, shelter, supportive housing, children’s after-school and summer programs, and service coordination for thousands of our neighbors. Staff positions are filled and we’re investing in training to ensure that our team has the skills to meet the complex needs we see every day. The Board of Directors is engaged, active, talented, and committed to the mission of the Haven.

At the board retreat we discussed a wide-ranging set of opportunities and challenges. I’d like to share some of the highlights.

We articulated a vision for the future that will challenge and inspire us:

  • No one in the Upper Valley should be hungry or food insecure.
  • Everyone in the Upper Valley has a home.
  • The Haven embodies the best practices of safe, secure, trauma-informed systems for its clients and staff.
  • The Haven will be a learning organization and a center of study for best practices to address the challenges of rural poverty.
  • The Haven will be an advocate for people living in poverty and work with community partners to create a more just and equal world.

With this vision in mind, we proposed a set of goals that will focus our strategy and services:

  • We will build a trauma-informed learning organization that recognizes the inevitability of growth and change, strives to be more democratic, practices emotional intelligence, has open communication, and is concerned with social justice.
  • We will amplify the voice of the people we serve so they are included in decisions affecting operations and governance.
  • We will address food insecurity by providing nutritious food to people where and when they need it.
  • We remain committed to providing emergency shelter, but equally important, we will also seek to help people secure permanent solutions to housing insecurity through supportive and transitional housing models.
  • We will embody best practices in children’s after-school and summer programming that work to restore resiliency and mitigate the adverse effects of the childhood experience of being homeless.
  • We will be a learning organization focused on continuous improvement through a greater understanding of service use patterns, outcomes, and the impact of our services.
  • We will develop a center of research on rural poverty to bring attention to the challenges of people living in our community and drive policy agenda.

A lot of work remains to form the objectives that will help us measure our progress towards these goals. We can anticipate that we will deepen our programmatic response in some areas, broaden it in others, and find new ways to bring our mission to life.

I welcome any thoughts and comments on these ideas and how we can best serve our community. My door is always open to you.

In the meantime, I offer my best wishes to you and your families this Thanksgiving holiday. We certainly have a lot to be thankful for at the Haven.


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