CHESTER — With winter upon us and frigid temperatures, Haven Ministries’ shelter at Kent Island United Methodist Church in Stevensville is at its capacity. Since opening in October, the shelter has helped 25 residents, including 10 children. Because of this status, many families from Queen Anne’s County remain on a waiting list for the shelter.
One of the services provided at no cost by Haven Ministries shelter program is case management. These trained professionals work tirelessly, Executive Director Krista Pettit said. The shelter is a stepping stone to quickly obtaining safe, affordable housing, she said. There is a lack of affordable housing in the county, and it is the goal of the shelter to try to help families and individuals find housing in the communities they are from and keep children in the same school whenever possible.
Pettit said shelter staff and case managers work tirelessly with clients to quickly move clients in the shelter into safe and affordable housing.
“Our staff works each day to find clients training, jobs, medical services and eventually housing,” Pettit said. “Without their dedication, we would not be able to offer our clients hope through the provision of the basic needs of shelter, clothing, food and other resources.”
Pam Boyce, a night assistant who has been with the shelter for 13 years, said, “I love helping people. It’s a calling. We make sure everyone has what they need and a place to go during the day after they leave us. We pack lunches and get breakfast together on the night shift.”
She added, “Our case managers go above and beyond just the shelter needs — they help with insurance, medical needs, and jobs.”
The case managers’ goal is to connect these individuals to jobs and job training, where applicable, and to help with transportation to other appointments, Pettit said. Through Haven, volunteer and paid positions are available at the ministry run thrift store and warehouse. In some instances, paid job training also is offered, and workers receive a job training certificate after completion of the program.
It depends on the season how readily available employment is within the county, Pettit said. In addition to securing employment for the individuals they are helping, Haven seeks to place those clients in entry-level jobs that will lead to promotion and past minimum wage to a living wage, she said.
There are often a variety of reasons that lead people to find themselves without a permanent home, Pettit said. A lost job, loss of transportation, such as a vehicle that cannot afford to be repaired, and illness are often situations that lead to a loss of home, she said. Without family or other connections to help a person get by, it can make it very difficult to recover from the financial loss.
Pettit pointed out another situation where older relatives found themselves in the position of caring for younger children suddenly. What leads to homelessness is not a one-size fits all situation, there are so many variables, she said.
With very limited public transportation and a shortage of affordable housing, Haven Ministries is active in helping facilitate all of the resources necessary to help these families become stabilized again. The case management services not only assist in transportation to family services, doctors appointments and job training, but in procuring licenses and birth certificates necessary to function successfully, Pettit said.
To help fund shelter staff and case managers at Haven Ministries, the organization hosts an annual event, Best Girlfriends Weekend. This year’s second annual Best Girlfriends Weekend will be held Feb. 22 to 24 at the beautiful Wye Conference Center Houghton House and River House.
Taryn Chase, Haven Ministries’ new business and marketing development director, said “The property includes five-star rated rooms and delicious meals prepared on the property, as well as an incredible weekend filled with your best friends, new friends, positivity and a complete rejuvenation of you!”
Last year’s weekend was filled with women empowerment discussions, jewelry making, shopping, tastings from local restaurants, a Saturday business expo with a variety of vendors, a fashion show, and an evening dance party with DJ Cori. The weekend kicked off with a Friday movie night, complete with candy, popcorn and treats.
Chase said, “Island Furniture Studio hosted a hospitality suite for the weekend where guests made new friendships that have only grown stronger during this past year. Since it was such an amazing event, Island Furniture Studio is a premier sponsor for this year’s event. Buffy Cromwell and Denise Boggs are going above and to beyond to make this year’s event memorable for attendees.”
Lolita Watkins, Computer Island owner and spiritual leader for the weekend and one of Haven Ministries business partners, said, “The weekend was perfect in every way, simply ‘SHEMAZING.’”
Karen Uthus, a participant in the 2018 Best Girlfriends Weekend, added, “Last year’s Best Girlfriend weekend left me rejuvenated, inspired and grateful. I spent a wonderful weekend surrounded by amazing, positive and inspiring women.”
The “Best Girlfriend Weekend” getaway includes a Friday night reception, movie night, morning yoga, fashion shows, coffee bar, jewelry making, spa services, powerful workshops, a Saturday night party with food and beverage tastings, shopping from vendors, and all meals included. Limited tickets are available now for the two-night stay at the Aspen Institute Wye River.
Tickets are on sale at Haven-ministries.org. For more information, call Taryn Chase at 410-490-0925.
To learn more about how Haven Ministries operates or to make a financial contribution or donation of time or services, visit www.haven-ministries.org.