Here we are, at the 40th story, the last in our series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Haven’s founding. Our stories have taken many paths. Some about the past, our founding, history and the people who “were there when it happened”. Others recounted events important in our history such as the aftermath of Hurricane Irene or the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve paid tribute to the people without whom the Haven would not be the same organization or maybe even here – the Rev. Bud Cederholm, Jack & Dorothy Byrne, Sara Kobylenski, Suzanne Stofflet, Dan Fraser, Tom Ketteridge, Mary & Paul Feeney.
We also learned the stories of people who are less well known, but no less important – the people who came to the Haven seeking our help – people who needed a place to stay, a “shelter in the storm” who were able to move forward by renewing their own hope and discovering a graspable possibility. Where’s the Haven in this journey? We just walk behind, gently encouraging, thankful for the privilege of knowing someone who chose to ask us for help.
We also explored ideas that guide our work – Housing First, Trauma Informed Care, Dignity and Respect for all, Supportive Housing, the principle of Abundance, the role of Advocacy to address root causes and bring about change, Service Coordination, the “programmatic glue that makes everything else at the Haven make sense.”
The array of services were described and brought to life through the stories of people who counted on the Haven – the Food Shelf and community food programs that address hunger and food instability; our shelters and supportive housing case management services that help guide people towards housing stability; and the children’s services that help restore the resiliency damaged by homelessness and the other challenges of a young life wanting for essential material goods.
The Haven has always recognized that we are a member of the Upper Valley community with a special role entrusted to us. With that trust comes great responsibility that we hope we have always honored. We’ve also always counted on that community to come together to support us through their financial gifts, the thousands of volunteers who give us their time, the many partnerships that bring together complementary resources and skills to solve problems that once seemed intractable.
Forty stories, but now we’re at the end. It’s been our privilege to share them with you. If you would like to learn more about the Haven, our work or our future, please give me a call any time. Or stop by the Haven. I would love to show you our mission in action: “With the support of the Upper Valley community, the Haven assists those who are experiencing poverty to be free from hunger, to be securely housed, and to pursue a self-directed life.”