(written by a Haven staff member)
I was in the reception area of the Haven at the end of a work day in May, gathering the courage to dash to my car in the middle of torrential downpour, when Ryan arrived. A bit balding and wearing glasses, he looked like your average middle-aged dad. Maybe an accountant, I thought. I wondered if he was at the Haven to drop off a food donation or give one of our volunteers a ride home. I was surprised when I overheard him check in with Marti, our Reception Coordinator, and explain that he needed a place to stay that evening. Just then, there was a break in the rain and I ran out to my car.
The next day, I saw Ryan in the hallway of the Hixon House Adult Shelter where my office is located. I learned that because all the beds were full the previous evening, a Haven Service Coordinator had arranged for him to spend the night at a local motel. Luckily, a spot at the shelter had since opened up and Ryan was able to move in.
Over the course of the summer, I’ve gotten to know Ryan. Recently, he volunteered at a Haven event and as we drove to the venue together, I heard more of his story. I was struck by the barriers he was facing and in particular, how many of the steps forward that he initiated were matched by steps backward. It would take time, perseverance, a positive outlook and a strong support team for Ryan to make headway.
Here’s a snapshot of some of Ryan’s steps forward (and backward) this summer:
• Ryan was eager to find a new job and worked hard to update his resume, line up job interviews and meet with potential employers.
• He secured an apprenticeship that was to lead to a full-time position on August 1.
• He started his new job and began to settle into a routine, which was beginning to bring a feeling of normalcy back into his life. It was great to see Ryan head out to work in the morning with a new sense of purpose and return to Hixon in the late afternoon, tired after a busy day.
• He studied and passed pre-licensure testing for New Hampshire, required for his work.
• Weeks later, Ryan was informed that he should have taken the Vermont test where he is a resident, not the NH one where his employer is located.
• Ryan took the bus to Burlington, VT and walked several miles to the testing site. After passing the NH test weeks before, he took the VT test and failed to pass by two points.
The support of Ryan’s Service Coordinator, others at the Haven and partner organizations has been—and will continue to be—key to his ability to navigate these barriers and rebuild his life.
We will be featuring the next part of Ryan’s story in our fall printed newsletter, which will be mailed in late October.
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.