Year-End Message from Michael Redmond

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Year-End Message from Michael Redmond

Dear Friends,

It is a special gift to me in my role at the Haven to be able to send best wishes to you at this time of year. It’s been a busy week for sure — full of good news, cheer and many reminders of the value of our mission and work. On Monday, the Hartford Planning Commission approved our application to expand our shelter operations at a new location in White River Junction, the site of the old 25,000 Gifts building. We’ll be able to open a “low barrier” shelter meaning that we will be able to offer a space to sleep for anyone in need. This will be a good complement to our Hixon Adult Shelter and allow us to reach people that are often isolated and at greater risk. A lot of work awaits to renovate the space – likely opening in the summer of 2025. Meanwhile, we continue to prepare to open a low barrier winter shelter in Lebanon with 12-15 beds. We hope to be operating the first full week of January. We know from our work operating a winter season shelter here at the Haven from 2015 to 2020 how important this shelter is. It will save lives in our harsh winters. We expect we’ll serve over 100 people over the course of the winter.

The Haven was also “Elf-Central” this week as we gathered and sorted all the Christmas gifts provided by you, the generous Upper Valley community for the people our work brings us close too. The parents of the families in our Byrne Shelter were able to select gifts for their children matching their Santa lists and make Christmas morning special. Due to your generosity and response we’re also able to provide presents for all the adults in the Byrne and Hixon Shelters, and in our many community programs including the 25 families participating in the Family Supportive Housing program and the adults living in the Parkhurst supportive housing program in Lebanon.

The Food Shelf has been busy as usual as people come by throughout the day to secure food that will help them get through the day and week. With prices not climbing as much, it’s a relief to all of us, but over the past year most items cost 10%, 15% or more than they did a year ago. The Haven helps people stretch budgets in all cases and is a matter of survival for many too. Again, our thanks to everyone who has donated food at this time of year. So many food drives by organizations, volunteer groups, churches, youth groups and more. We couldn’t help as many people as we do without your effort, spirit and generosity of time and funds.

This is also the time of year that we’re reminded that while our work brings us much joy, it’s also the case that life without housing, living on the edge or in poverty, sometimes with additional challenges of substance abuse too often has tragic consequences of deaths occurring far too early in someone’s life. Each December, on the night of the winter solstice, the longest night of the year at the beginning of the cold stretch of winter, we gather in a vigil to remember and honor those we came to know who have died over the past year. We’ll have some candles to light the darkness, give witness to the meaning of their lives, and express our sorrow that they were taken too soon. This year, we’re joining with our friends from Lebanon and meeting in Vermont at the Listen Center in White River Junction and then walking across the Lyman Bridge to New Hampshire. Along the way, I know I’ll think of them but also hope that by expanding our shelter services in Lebanon and White River Junction as I’ve described, perhaps next year’s list will be shorter.

My very best wishes to you and your families for a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season and start to the New Year.


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