It is a bittersweet day at HAVEN as we close on the sale of our former building. We are thrilled to be in our new home, a fully modernized space, but closing the door for a final time of our old home has been rather melancholy.
Purchased in 1985 by community supporters, the former St. Vincent de Paul convent became a safe respite for thousands of survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse. For 30 years we called it home and it gives us chills to think of the lives saved and the lives changed. One such survivor states, “I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since I found shelter, support and counseling at HAVEN. I am eternally grateful for the acceptance and guidance that I received to create a new & safe life for me and all of my children.”
When I first came to HAVEN, one of my most favorite moments was when I would sit alone in my office and hear the joyful voices of children playing on the playground. Kids being kids in the midst of crisis; running around laughing, talking, and often singing. Another cherished moment was the year that Santa came in with gifts for the children and one little girl, in total awe, clung to her easy bake oven, in disbelief that Santa had found her at the shelter and brought her the one thing she wanted the most.
We will also continue to cherish the fun memories of incredible individuals who once worked or volunteered at HAVEN. Sharing a passion for social change and unquestioned dedication to a cause, many started their career at HAVEN as college interns, volunteers, and first time employees. We know that many still leave their mark in bringing hope and healing to survivors.
We pause, as the door closes one last time, and thank the former leaders of HAVEN, Debi Cain and Hedy Nuriel as well as the dozens of board members and supporters. It is through their dedication and leadership that brought the old building to life – in the 80’s as HAVEN’s new home, in the late 90’s after a fire, and the early 2000’s during a final remodeling. These early leaders set the benchmark for how to turn a building into a safe haven.
If these walls could talk…..I believe they would sing a song of joyful noise, echoing the voices of the young children who give thanks for wrapping them in warmth and love.