Upper Valley Haven
The Haven offers shelter and education to homeless families. They also provide food, clothing and assistance to anyone in need. Anyone entering the Haven's doors is considered an equal and not judged by the circumstances in which they find themselves. Alternatively, guests are connected to resources and offered development opportunities so that they can eventually reassert their independence.
Hypertherm's Associates have donated countless volunteer hours to The Haven and the HOPE Foundation has funded both capital and operating grants.
What is The Upper Valley Haven and what is their mission?
“Be Kind. Be Thoughtful. Be Helpful.” is the Upper Valley Haven’s motto. The Haven was founded thirty years ago by five individuals from St. Paul’s Church in White River Junction, VT and St. James’ Episcopal Church in Woodstock. This group raised money and purchased an old farmhouse next to St. Paul’s Church. It became the Haven’s first temporary shelter for the homeless. The Haven continues to offer shelter and education to homeless families. They also provide food, clothing and assistance to anyone in need.
Where is the Haven located now and what is the nature of their service?
The Haven is located in a newly constructed building at 713 Hartford Ave, across the street from the Hartford High School in White River Jct. The organization offers helpful and dignified solutions to “guests.” Anyone entering the Haven’s doors is considered an equal and not judged by the circumstances in which they find themselves. Alternatively, guests are connected to resources and offered development opportunities so that they can eventually reassert their independence.
“The Haven led us down avenues that we didn’t know we had. They connected us with resources to better our situation.”
– Nick (A husband, father of three children, cancer survivor and a former shelter guest)
What kinds of services are offered to homeless families?
“The Family Shelter” has the capacity to house eight families. The typical stay of a family is two to three months. During this time, parents work closely with their designated Shelter Advocate and external support organizations. A majority of the guests find and maintain permanent housing after they leave the shelter. Many former guests continue to stay connected with The Haven, either by participating in education programs or continued work with their Advocate.
“You don’t see people sleeping out on the street, but they are sleeping in their car.”
–Mary Feeney, Haven Shelter Manager
The Haven has support groups for parent’s living in The Family Shelter and participation is encouraged. Group participants learn about things like: parenting techniques, cooking, budgeting, etc. These groups provide a safe, nurturing space for parents at a time when it is greatly needed. These groups offer healing, relaxation, and opportunities for growth in self-worth and confidence.
“The Haven takes that burden of insecurity off your shoulders, so that you can gather yourself.”
–Sergio (A single father with two sons, a Hurricane Charlie survivor, and a former Haven guest)
More than half of Haven guests are children. The school-aged guests are invited to join the “After School Program” which offers kids a safe and productive place to study after school. This program meets Monday through Thursday from 2:30–5:00pm. On average, 10 to 12 children and teenagers attend daily. Students can receive one-on-one tutoring from community volunteers. Special enrichment activities are offered to kids too. These activities promote creativity and intellectual development, which can help a child sustain themselves through present and future life challenges. Programs are designed to open kid’s minds to the diversity of the world and offer them a chance to experiment with art, writing, and language. In addition to these cultural explorations, children are taken outside to enjoy the natural world. Kids go hiking, swimming, sledding, snowshoeing, etc. There are various field trips to local destinations and neighboring states.
What additional services does the Haven offer the community?
“The Clothing Room” accepts donations of clothing and makes these goods available to anyone in need. There is a variety of clothing, including shoes, which is available to women, men and children. The Haven accepts clothing donations Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4pm.
People in need of food can come to “The Food Shelf.” A guest can receive a week’s worth of food during their visit and are allowed one visit per month. There are a wide range of non-perishable items, meat, and fresh produce for them to choose from. Bread and produce is always available, even on weekends and after hours. The majority of the food is purchased from the Vermont Food Bank at $0.18 per pound, but food is also donated throughout the year. Contact Nancy Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of food items always in need.
Opening in May 2010: “The Adult Shelter Project” is moving forward fast. As it stands now, shelter cannot be given to childless adults and couples. 302 adults contacted The Haven requesting shelter in 2008. These individuals were referred to facilities 30 to 100 miles away (the closest adult shelter is 25 miles away in Claremont, NH). The actual number of adults who need shelter is estimated to be much higher since many people are already aware that The Haven’s shelter is only for families. Some of the “homeless adults” are veterans who come to the area to receive healthcare at the VA, but do not have room and board.
How is The Haven paid for and how has HOPE supported this organization?
The Haven is a non-profit organization that relies overwhelmingly on support from the community to carry out its mission. Support comes in a myriad of ways. Historically, over 70% of The Haven’s revenues come directly from individuals who make donations by check, credit card, or gifts of stock. Donations also come in the form of food, clothing and volunteer time which is of great value, but not as easily quantified. HOPE made its first monetary gift to The Haven in 2002 and over the years we have donated $38,917 in total to the organization. That majority of that money was added to their operating budget. In addition, Hypertherm’s Associates have donated countless CST hours to The Haven.