March Message from Michael

Lebanon SHelter

MR # croppedDear Friends of the Haven,

The end of March is notable for us annually at the Haven because it concludes our fiscal year. I want to extend my deepest appreciation to all of you who made donations to the Haven – nearly 3,500 individuals, groups, religious affiliated organizations, businesses and foundations. Amazing. Our mission statement begins “With the support of the Upper Valley” and this couldn’t be truer.

This financial support allows us to be bold and step forward when we’re needed as occurred this winter in Lebanon where with the support of the City we developed and managed a winter season shelter. With 12 beds we’ve opened our doors to over 50 different individuals since our start date on Jan. 25. We have two weeks to go in our first season and it’s been a thorough success. In addition to a warm, safe space, good food and a hot shower, the shelter – through our marvelous and dedicated team of staff – demonstrated every night to our guests that they were not forgotten, their lives have value and tomorrow can be the start of something new.

My special thanks to staff member, Gwen Williams, who volunteered to take on management of the shelter. We don’t know how we could have managed this effort without her. Here’s an example of what makes Gwen special – on the Saturday of the recent 2-feet snowstorm Gwen gave up her day off to keep the shelter open for the day because the weather would have presented significant challenges to most of the guests – no buses were running, the library closed and community dinner canceled. Everyone was able to stay safe thanks to this selfless (and typical) gesture by Gwen. Special!!

Meanwhile, work on the renovated Food Shelf continues at our main building on Hartford Avenue. Work is scheduled to be completed by the end of May when we can return operations there. The temporary program at 608 N. Main has worked spectacularly. Customers, staff and volunteers have all adapted wonderfully and we’re seeing the same number of households as we did last year at this time. The new Food Shelf will have all new equipment, better lighting and layout and we’ll be able to provide an even better shopping experience than before. We can’t wait to be back.

The end of our fiscal year is also a time for transition on our Board of Directors. We bid farewell to Stacey Chiocchio who served for six years including three years as Board President.  Stacey, unsurprisingly to all who have worked with her, continued to stand out as a most effective and hard working Board member during her time at the Haven. We were fortunate to have her leadership as president during the critical COVID era and I will be forever grateful for the personal support and wisdom she shared with me while in that role. I also want to thank Mary Brown, Stacey’s successor as president for the past two years who remains on the Board, but who is stepping down as president. Her generosity of spirit, kindness and willingness to represent the Haven and dialog not only with friends but also people who were not always supportive of our mission or location of our programs was invaluable to me and the organization. We welcome Kathy Welling as incoming president to carry on this leadership as well as two new members of the Board who we’ll introduce in a future issue of this newsletter.

Finally, it was with great sadness that we said goodbye to our friend and colleague, Lisa Gurney this month. Her photo and a lovely tribute is contained in this edition. Lisa worked at the Haven in our Shelter programs for almost 13 years, first as a shelter staff and later as a service coordinator. This news has affected all of us, some more deeply than others. We worked side by side with Lisa, some for this entire period. Many of us called her a friend and a few, the best of friends. She also will be remembered fondly and closely by scores of families she knew and supported here at the Haven, and in her previous career workplaces. She was a devoted and loving daughter and sibling to her brothers too. We will not forget her and will strive to be like her — dedicated, kind, compassionate and funny – a wonderful combination.

Best wishes,


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