March Intensives

Group Shot @ Haven

11 Hanover High School students participated in a week long program called March Intensives where they chose to volunteer at the Haven. After their week at the Haven, students wrote about what they learned. Read how Hanover student Gracie Callaghan describes her experience:

Upper Valley Haven: (Hidden in plain sight)
By Gracie Callaghan

“I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.” Martin L. King

We are the people. We have accomplished and destroyed many things. Society is thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values. What does America value? Presently we value the economy’s strength, achievements and hard work, and the well-known philosophy that money is the ultimate power. To us as a nation success is weighed in money, to the Upper Valley Haven (a homeless shelter) homelessness is a story about new found success, where a community is created and where people find hope and discover possibility.

You see this is where I come in; my name is Gracie Callaghan and I was able, through my school’s March intensive program, to experience The Haven’s success and shared sense of community. The Executive Director Sarah describes the Haven’s community like the well-known metaphor of teaching a man how to fish. For the man what is valuable is not just having the fish, it is being able to know that with the skills of the fishing rod, he won’t have to worry about being hungry again. Starting from the foundation and working forward is incredibly important. The Haven is a reconstructive service that “serves people struggling with poverty by providing food, shelter, education, clothing and support”-mission statement. Providing a “Service” is one of the most important ideas instilled at The Haven because it takes the idea and strength of power and leaves it at the front door. Once you walk through The Haven’s doors you have the opportunity to be treated as an equal, and the ability to be as successful as the organization can support you to be.

Volunteering at The Haven for four days was a truly exceptional experience. I say experience because I was only there for a total of 7.5 hours. For the clients who live there and appreciate The Haven’s resources, this small organization growing bigger every day is a way of life. I experienced walking in someone else’s shoes by sorting through donated clothes, to then be put out into the official department clothing store, to bringing in food product, sorting it and then re-stocking the food shelves, and the greatest joy of all seeing someone who had nothing, start to gain something back, his smile. After March Intensive week I often feel like I’ve shut the door on an experience, and may not have the opportunity to further educate myself on it or with it. After having The Haven experience as my March Intensive, I didn’t feel like I had lost anything; I felt like I had gained and learned so much in just those four days.

The Haven is a supportive community of people and educated staff who understand that life can take an unexpected turn. Thankfully, The Haven is an organization that has the resources and the support to problem solve and to keep it as just an unexpected turn in the pages of your life. When I walked into the Haven, I was not only excited to be wearing my red lanyard, name tag, I was also excited to be of service to anyone in need. We all have good days, and we all have bad days, The Haven organization is innovative, and successful in its ability to appreciate when you’ve been stuck in a bad day for long enough, and allows your story of being homeless to be a story of new-found success.

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