Haven House’s Adopt a Child Program Gives Children the Tools to Succeed

Monday, July 25, 2016, 7:52 am
Casandra Eriksen

The Adopt-a-Child for Back to School program at Haven House matches community members with children who have left Haven House in the past year, or currently live at the shelter. “We ask the families what their children need for back to school and then you shop for those items” including school uniforms, coats, shoes, and play clothes: says Leah Weidner, the organization’s Volunteer & Special Projects Coordinator.

Haven House started the Adopt-a-Child for Back to School program over fifteen years ago to provide local children with new clothes and school supplies for the start of the school year, and according to Weidner “all donations stay in our community and go directly to families who are current or former Haven House residents. Last year, 93 local children received back to school clothes, backpacks and supplies thanks to supporters.”

Haven House

About the shelter itself, Weidner explains that “Haven House provides emergency housing and support services for one-parent and two-parent families with children. The shelter helps families who are homeless prepare for permanent housing by developing and promoting self-sufficiency, stability, and financial responsibility. In addition to housing, residents receive meals, crisis counseling, assistance with goal setting and referrals to other agencies as needed.”

Asked about the history of Haven House, Weidner explains that “Haven House has provided temporary shelter for homeless families since 1983. Over the years, the scope of our programs and services has increased dramatically. Not only do we support our residents with basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing, and personal needs items, but we have developed programs that will make an impact on the lives of our families after they have left our shelter. Giving our residents the opportunity to improve their lives through goal setting, training, and education enables them to become more productive and less apt to become homeless in the future.”

Part of the support for resident families is “a Rapid Rehousing program, with a goal to move into permanent housing, within a sustainable budget, as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, our Family Life program offers enriching classes and activities for adults and kids, and provides assistance with back-to-school and holiday gifts. While in shelter, staff members meet daily with residents to discuss progress in finding permanent housing and provide advice in dealing with landlords and local agencies. Residents develop personal budgets that are realistic and goal plans that are productive. Staff members meet with residents once a week to develop a Weekly Plan which includes plans for seeking housing and meeting personal and financial needs.”

Weidner cites a success rate of “68% of families move into housing from shelter, and once families reach their new permanent home, our Partners in Progress (PIP) program provides follow-up care for up to a year. Through engagement in the PIP program, we know that more than 91% of Haven House families are able to remain stably housed in their new home for at least a year after leaving our temporary shelter. The PIP program is a transitional housing program that assists families after they leave the shelter. A staff member works with the former residents to set realistic goals and monitor progress in employment, budgeting, arranging childcare, improving parenting skills, and connecting with the neighborhood and the community. Our goal is to build strong families, increase employment success and prevent future homelessness.”

Weidner wants the community to know that Haven House is “always looking for volunteers to help play with kids at the shelter, make dinner for residents, help with cleaning/organizing, and yardwork!”

If you would like to volunteer at Haven House or participate in Adopt-a-Child, please email Volunteer & Special Projects Coordinator Weidner at lweidner@havenhouseel.org. You can also call her at (517) 337-2731.


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