Haven House Opens Doors to Public for Valentine’s Day Tours

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020, 4:45 pm
Sarah Spohn

Photo by Raymond Holt of children's art at Haven House.

If you’re looking to try a different type of event this year on Valentine’s Day, consider the “Heart at Haven House” tour from 8 to 9 a.m. Friday at Haven House.

The event invites community members to bring their Valentine’s date, friends, and questions to the Haven House (121 Whitehills Drive, adjacent to the East Lansing Post office parking lot). Attendees will learn about available programs, history of the House, tour the facility, and can learn more about becoming involved as an ambassador.

Haven House was founded in 1983 as a temporary shelter for homeless families, according to Development Director Molly Cook. There are also food, transportation, and clothing resources provided with partnership programs at Haven House, including “Adopt-A-Family for Family Christmas,” and “Adopt-A-Child Back-to-School”.

“This is our second time hosting public tours, and we plan to do that quarterly — and do it themed around a holiday, or a giving day,” says Haven House Development Director Molly Cook (photo by Raymond Holt).

Haven House also provides programs for finding permanent housing, job resources, and an exit program, Partners in Progress (PIP). According to its website, “through engagement in the PIP program, more than 91 percent of Haven House families are able to remain stably housed in their new home for at least a year after leaving (Haven House) temporary shelter.”

Cook spoke about Haven House’s previous tours, which were usually one to one.

“In the past year, one of our goals has been to make those more public. We had our first set of public tours on ‘Giving Tuesday,’ which was in December,” Cook said. “We hosted two tours, had about 15 people who could come, look around, learn about us – that was a really great way for people to learn how to get involved. This is our second time hosting public tours, and we plan to do that quarterly – and do it themed around a holiday, or a giving day.”

The positive life-changing assistance Haven House provides for local people is especially evident, and able to become a full-circle moment for volunteers, some of whom were previous residents.

“One of our Board members is a former resident,” Cook said. “She just has a really great perspective, and she comes on many of our tours as well to answer questions. She just answers questions in a way that myself, who has never been a resident, is able to. She’s an amazing addition to our Board.”

The event tours precede Haven House’s biggest event of the year, Pancake Palooza, February 22 at Applebee’s on Coolidge Road in East Lansing.

“We’re hoping that some people who are unfamiliar with us come to the tour, and want to stay involved – and we’ll be able to invite them to Pancake Palooza,” Cook said.

Photo by Raymond Holt of children's art at Haven House.

This event is an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast, paired with a friendly competition between local celebrities as servers.

The main goal of the Valentine’s Day tours is to provide Haven House donors the opportunity to experience the difference their funding makes within the local homeless community.

“Some of our donors – maybe they don’t get to come in as often, or see our updates. It’s a way for people to see the impact of their giving, and see the amazing things they’re doing by supporting the families here,” Cook said.

The event also provides an opportunity to grow in the number of volunteers/ambassadors. Last year alone, Haven House had more than 6,000 volunteer hours, according to Cook.

“We get questions a lot where people ask how they can get involved, but sometimes, it’s hard to know the best way to find your fit – until you see it. It’s a way for people to really see where they might fit in (in a volunteer role),” Cook said.

While the Haven House provides a community for those without housing, in turn, the local community has proven to be supportive of their mission.

“We’re doing a fundraiser right now called ‘Have a Heart for Homelessness,’ ” Cook said. “Throughout the month of February, different local businesses have hearts available to put up if they donate to us. There’s a bunch of East Lansing businesses, like the Peanut Barrel, Student Book Store, Crunchy’s – a lot of local businesses supporting it.”

The Valentine’s Day tour is free, but RSVPs are preferred on the Facebook event page.

Photo by Raymond Holt of children's art at Haven House.


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