Most anyone who has come to the Day Shelter in the past four years has met Jesse, The Haven’s most faithful volunteer. Jesse is here five days a week, helping out at the Welcome Desk, and helping train new volunteers there. He’s been doing this since about the time he got sober.
“Most people here know me from the old days. They know there was no bigger drunk,” he chuckled. “But by being down here [in the day shelter], I feel like I’m leading people not by words, but by example.”
Jesse grew up in foster homes, and then found himself pretty much alone when he turned 18. “I grew up rough. I know what it’s like to find love, to lose it, and then to forget what it was like. I learned to survive on my own, but it was a downward spiral. I ended up being an alcoholic.”
While he attended Fluvanna College, and went on to hold steady jobs in shipping and manufacturing for almost 20 years, he eventually found himself homeless. Then one day, when he was lying down on his back in the woods, “half-drunk,” he was approached by a member of PACEM (a partner program that organizes overnight shelter for people in the cold months). “I still call her ‘Angel.’”
Through working with his case manager, before The Haven came into being, he got connected to housing assistance and eventually moved into an apartment. “With the apartment came an awareness of my responsibilities to others, not just to myself. It took a while, and I didn’t make it easy, but finally, I agreed to go to rehab.”
He’s been sober for five years now and spends his afternoons and weekends playing with his dog, cleaning up his place, and going to church.
“This place gives people a bigger opportunity to straighten their lives up. I’ve seen people come in here with no desire. After talking with people here for a while and getting an understanding of what’s possible, they change their lives.”
So what’s Jesse’s advice to people who want to help others who are like he used to be? “If you see a person who needs a helping hand or advice, give it, whether they want it or not. Because even if they don’t act on it right away, somewhere along the way something will click, and they will remember that someone was there for them and that what they did or said was right.”
Sometimes it’s losing a job; sometimes it’s a sickness or injury, car problems, or a death in the family that puts someone in a position where they can’t quite make ends meet that month. They end up calling different agencies all around town in desperation to try to find help.
That’s why Shayla Givens focused on creating the central Help Line as one of her top priorities when she joined The Haven as the Pathways Fund Coordinator in September last year. “With the Help Line, we work with callers to figure out the right resource that will get them the help they need to get back on their feet.”
Pathways is an emergency assistance program funded by the City of Charlottesville, and now administered by The Haven. If a resident of the City of Charlottesville has a source of income but has experienced an unexpected financial setback, he or she could be eligible for one-time financial assistance to overcome the setback.
“A lot of times, we end up helping out with a security deposit because we know how expensive this town is. From January through March this year, over 80% of the assistance we gave went towards helping people with rental expenses. In each case, we had a good indication that they would be able to make it on their own after that,” explains Shayla. “But there are a lot of callers that aren’t eligible for Pathways. Now we can easily connect them with other resources that might be able to help, too.”
The obvious benefit for people in the community who need help is having just one number to call. But the benefit for the key Help Line partners—The Haven, Alliance of Interfaith Ministries (AIM) and Love INC—is that by sharing responsibility for answering the Help Line on different days of the week, each agency actually ends up spending less time answering separate calls from people who are not a fit for their assistance programs.
But the need is so great, the monthly funds are usually gone before each month is even half over. “I dread those weeks, answering call after call and having to tell people that there is no money left. Sometimes, I can troubleshoot the problem, like helping the client figure out how to get their prescriptions for a lower cost so that they will be able to make rent and take their medication. But a lot of times, all I can do is let them know I’ve been there.”
Shayla has now begun a process to tie in budget counseling, offered by Piedmont Housing Alliance, as a component of assistance for some clients. “Some of these problems could be avoided if more people had the opportunity to learn how to plan and budget.”
Joe Rose lives on $735.00 a month. $500.00 of that is for his place in a rooming house with a shared bathroom and kitchen. He thinks he has it good compared to some who are still on the streets. “I’m a survivalist. I don't need much to get by,” he says.
Things weren’t always so tight for him. An electrician by trade for 22 years, for a time, he had it all. “Two cars, a nice home on a lake, 52 fishing poles, a Harley, and a nice firearms collection because I was an avid hunter.” But that changed when a routine check up in 2009 turned up a diagnosis of congestive heart failure, and his doctor told him working with electricity was out of the question. After selling off everything he had, he eventually lost his home, and found himself sleeping on the streets of Charlottesville.
When Joe was a regular Haven guest, he was also a regular Haven volunteer. He loved working in the community garden, and spent a lot of time in the kitchen doing dishes. “If The Haven was going to do something for me, I was going to do something for them. That’s just who I am.”
“The Haven was a real blessing for me. The people there helped keep me on track. I was frustrated by everything that was happening to me. It all seemed bad. I couldn’t figure out why me. I felt like I was a decent person. A good person. I sometimes wanted to give up. To end it all. But the people here, they reminded me that we were working on a plan, and not to give up. Never give up. They helped me a lot, and I will never forget that.”
Joe’s life took a turn for the better in 2013. Not only did his health improve when his pacemaker was reconfigured, he finally also secured stable housing. He comes by The Haven about once a month to visit with staff, and he never fails to express his appreciation.
These days, he tries to be a good neighbor by lending a hand when he can, and he takes walks when his health permits.
“I know I need to take care of my business and make this work, because I might not get another chance. I try not to get too bothered about anything. It’s amazing how sitting down and talking with a friend helps.”
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- Good deeds come in all shapes and sizes, and the staff at The Haven day shelter say they recently benefited from a child's good deed.
"He's helping us get in touch with that authentic gesture that I think all of us have as humans." said Diana Boeke, The Haven's Community Engagement Director.
When life handed 11-year-old Jin Pickering lemons, he decided to make lemonade and donate all the proceeds to help the homeless population at the Haven.
On Sunday morning he served breakfast to about 50 homeless men and women. All paid for by the money he raised from his lemonade stand.
"Seeing people on the streets with signs gave me an idea for a fundraiser to help them," said Jin. "They're kind of like us, just without homes."
With his mom's help, Jin learned it costs the Haven an average of $137 to serve breakfast every morning. Jin set a goal to raise $137 and he nearly tripled that goal.
"For as long as I can remember, Jin has felt a deep concern for the situation of homelessness," said Kristin Morgan, Jin's mother. "When you're eleven and you feel strongly about something, it helps you feel empowered."
Jin says the biggest success wasn't the money, it was the smiles on the faces of over 40 thankful people.
"It feels good and it (the food) also looks good." said Jin.
The haven is always accepting donations and if you want to follow in Jin's footsteps click on the link along this story to donate.Read more
Business course for homeless starts in Charlottesville
Article By Allison Wrabel for The Daily Progress, October 16, 2016
A program designed to teach people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless how to start a business is launching this week in Charlottesville.
The pilot program, From Suitcase to Briefcase, is an eight-week course designed to teach people how to start their own business. The first course will have 11 participants, and people are already singing up for the second offering in January, said instructor Becky Blanton, author of “The Homeless Entrepreneur.”
It will be hosted at The Haven and taught by Blanton and fellow entrepreneur David Durovy.
“Homelessness is where you are,” she said at a recent information session for the program. “Who you are is who you are. It’s who you were before you were homeless, it’s who you are now, it’s who you’re going to be after you get off the streets — and that’s what this program is about.”
Blanton said the course’s staff also will provide emotional and personal support, something you don’t get with an online “how to start a business” program.
Durovy and Blanton met through the Community Investment Collaborative’s entrepreneurship training workshop.
“I think it’s great when you see a couple of your own graduates, people who came through your program, take the things that they learned and feel so excited about them that they want to share them with others,” said CIC Program Director Keir Zander.
“Becky has always had a lot of entrepreneurial energy; she’s someone who just has this drive,” he said.
Zander said programs like these that encourage entrepreneurs to go after something they’re passionate about also can be beneficial in other aspects of life, such as participants’ discipline, enthusiasm for life and ability to express themselves.
“Both Becky and David have worked with homeless populations in the past, so I think they see an opportunity there,” Zander said. “They feel like the techniques and the ways that we coach entrepreneurs and get them thinking like an entrepreneur can be really helpful even if you wind up just using those skills to go be a better employee or go find an opportunity in the job market.”
Brittany Neff, of Woodforest National Bank, will teach a financial responsibility class and sign up participants for a free checking account.
“I have a background in finance with the bank, but also in psychology, so I will be here for anything you really need, whether it be personal, business or finance,” she said.
Other classes will include how to market a business, how to make a business plan, what to do if hard times hit and information on other resources in the area. Blanton said they plan to go on field trips to local businesses to hear from the owners how they started.
Charlottesville’s commissioner of revenue, Todd Divers, said it is realistic for people who are homeless to start a business.
“The type of businesses that I think a lot of the folks are taking this class are going to be doing are going to be peddlers and merchants and things like that,” he said. “There is a business license associated with that — it’s about $35 — and usually a zoning permit. They can add up, but I don’t think that should stand in the way of somebody doing this.”
There is an additional fee to be a peddler, as well as a permit fee to set up on the Downtown Mall, if that is where they want to be.
“The things that they’re going to be teaching these people, I think it will be useful,” Divers said. “We see entrepreneurs coming in every day getting a business license, and there’s not a lot of difference between the people we already see and these people, other than a roof over their head.”
“I don’t think the financial hurdles need to be as daunting as we think. They can be dealt with,” he said.
A representative from Divers’ office will speak during one of the sessions, said Luis Salazar, business tax auditor for the city.
“We’ll come in or I’ll come in to talk during one of the sessions about taxation for businesses and how that affects them as entrepreneur,” Salazar said. “There’re a lot of different types of taxes so it’s important for them to be aware, have a basic understanding of what some of those are. So we’ll provide guidance and information in that sense.”
Salazar said that personally, he supports the program and thinks it’s a great idea.
“I think it’s a positive thing for the city and it’s a positive thing for them,” he said. “I think it’s an all around good thing. It can’t hurt.”
According to Point-in-Time Count Data, there were 261 people who were homeless in Charlottesville during one night in January. Twenty-two of those were unsheltered, while 239 were sheltered.
Nancy Carpenter, prevention coordinator and case manager at The Haven, called the participants in the business course “trailblazers” and said the class shows how the nature of work is changing.
“To be an entrepreneur and to create a niche where your skill or your idea will then be financially rewarding to you, as well as rewarding to your own self-care, I think it’ll help other people who are here with us to see that,” she said. “You all can spark a new movement here in Charlottesville.”
Among those signed up for the class is Darryl Rojas, who started out at The Haven as a homeless person and worked his way up to a staff position. He said he’s more of a service-oriented person, but he can help come up with some product ideas too.
“The impetus to all of this was actually a volunteer,” Rojas said. “A volunteer found [Blanton’s] book and came in one day all excited and was like, ‘Darryl! We’re going to find this lady and you’re going to do this,’ and I said, ‘OK, whatever.’ And she ended up contacting her, and this thing just rolled in.”
The materials for the class, as well as videos of the class and participants’ personal story videos and other resources from the course, will be posted on thehomelessentrepreneur.com for anyone to download and use for free.
House calls: Finding shelter for local homeless vets
Article From Cville Weekly, October 12, 2016.
Story by Rebecca Bower
It’s been almost one year since Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Virginia was the first state in the U.S. to functionally end homelessness among veterans—and while it may not seem that way when residents drive through Charlottesville and see people begging, evolving housing programs are having positive effects on the city and surrounding counties.
Partnerships between Veterans Affairs medical centers, programs that support veterans families and local homeless organizations such as The Haven continue to piece together a complex, and often sensitive, puzzle.
Functionally ending homelessness does not mean it is eradicated. It means programs are in place to ensure a veteran’s experience with homelessness now—or in the future—will be “rare, brief and non-recurring,” according to McAuliffe. Rapid Re-Housing and Homelessness Prevention are two examples of programs available.
The Haven is often considered the homeless point of entry in Charlottesville and its five surrounding counties: Greene, Nelson, Fluvanna, Louisa and Albemarle.
Situated in a former multi-story church donated by Evan Almighty director and UVA alum Tom Shadyac on the corner of East Market and First Street North, The Haven has been addressing the needs of the area’s homeless community since opening its doors in 2010.
Caleb Fox, veterans case manager for The Haven, says the change towards housing programs has been monumental.
“The Rapid Re-Housing program is based on this notion of housing first,” says Fox. “In the last three years the approach to homelessness has really shifted on its head. It used to be getting folks into a shelter, addressing their physical and mental health, substance abuse, income issues and then getting them into a house. Now it’s get them into housing and then working on the other thingsthrough individual case management.”
Former Charlottesville mayor Dave Norris is another influential figure in the fight against chronic homelessness. During his time in office from 2008 to 2011, he was instrumental in getting The Crossings—a permanent supportive housing community for formerly homeless people—funded, developed and officially launched. He’s witnessed firsthand the changes to the system.
“There’s been this real focus nationally of addressing homelessness,” Norris says. “The consensus was that we were doing a decent job of putting a Band-Aid on homelessness, but not doing a very good job of actually ending it.”
He attributes a lot of the progress in reducing veteran homelessness to the Rapid Re-Housing thrust. “We saw a considerable increase in both state and federal resources that funneled through organizations such as The Haven and others,” says Norris.
The increased funding for these programs is based on statistical data, says Fox. Evidence suggests that getting someone off the street and into a stable situation generates better outcomes—and there are only slight differences between the programs for vets and non-vets.
The VA-funded Rapid Re-Housing program is more time-limited, providing a maximum of nine months of rental assistance, compared with two years for non-veterans, says Fox.
Since 2015, Fox says 54 veterans from the Charlottesville area have been enrolled in vet programs. He estimates the local homeless population at 185 to 220 people, which means about a quarter of them are veterans. Of the 54 veterans, 13 were enrolled in the Supportive Service for Veterans Families Homeless Prevention Program, which is intended for people who are not homeless but are imminently at risk, and the remaining 41 vets were enrolled in the SSVF Rapid Re-Housing program.
Fox says the support service programs spent approximately $79,000 to assist 24 veterans in these two programs with security deposits, rental assistance, utilities and deposits, transportation costs and moving expenses.
For the 30 remaining veterans, some decided to leave the area. Others declined services. Fox says he continues to work with the veterans who have not yet been housed to address any barriers they might have, including criminal background or credit issues.
“The goal the VA has set is that it’s a handup, and not a handout,” Fox says. “We send veterans on their way once they are in a stabilized situation, and ready to pay their own housing costs.”
While the need and desire for more funding are ever-present worries, he credits the increased focus on veterans over the past several years for some of the positive changes across the nation.
“Officials have spent a lot of money since the start of the Obama administration to address veteran homelessness, and it’s working,” says Fox.
Norris concurs that the cooperation across party lines really propelled the fight into the national spotlight. Getting vets into homes was a rallying point in Washington, and beyond.
“The least we can do is make sure our men and women who served this country in uniform never find themselves out on the streets,” Norris says. “In a city like this, in a state like this… we are showing that we can honor that commitment.”
The Haven is pleased to be the site of an upcoming Anna & Elizabeth concert with special guest Diane Cluck!
September 30, 2016 at 7:30pm, at The Haven Sanctuary. 112 Market Street, Charlottesville.
"They came to NPR and brought many of us to tears with some of the most yearning harmonies I've heard at the Tiny Desk. These songs are given few embellishments — sometimes a fiddle is added to a single voice, sometimes a banjo or guitar chimes in — but always the power is in the sparseness. If you've never thought your tastes would lean to mountain music, take a deep breath and soak it all in." Bob Boilen, NPR Music
A collaboration between Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle, the pair’s growing acclaim springs from a shared quartet of talents: Both are historians, storytellers, visual artists, and gifted, intuitive musicians—in combination, a groundbreaking approach.
Inspired by the richness and tradition of the music, Anna & Elizabeth gather songs and stories from archives and visits with elders. They bring these songs to life in performance with sparse, atmospheric arrangements using guitar, banjo, fiddle, and the uncanny blend of their voices in close harmony. They accompany their songs with stories—of the lyrics, of the singer, of the quest to learn the song—and they illustrate them in mesmerizing fashion. The two revive the old scrolling picture show, dubbed “crankies”—intricate picture-scrolls illustrating the old songs they sing, which they create in tandem with papercuts, shadow puppets, prints, and embroidered fabric.
ANNA & ELIZABETH - http://www.annaandelizabeth.com/
DIANE CLUCK - http://dianecluck.info/
“She is likely one of the most refined and elegant songwriters in all of neo-folkdom. A brilliant idiosyncratic guitarist, a witty and wise lyricist, an imaginative melody writer with a powerful voice; her dark and introspective tunes are utterly captivating. Watch her spellbind the room.” -Village Voice
THE HAVEN & POTTER’S CRAFT CIDER – OUR HAPPY COLLABORATION:
The story of this happy collaboration began 5 years ago, in 2011. Potter’s had just opened for business, selling—in our humble but spot-on opinion—the finest craft cider east of the Mississippi (and west, for that matter). The Haven was just a year old. A fortuitous conversation was had (over cider), and Potter’s cofounders, Tim Edmond and Dan Potter, offered to provide their marvelous Farmhouse Dry blend at The Haven’s first annual Harvest Dinner. The rest is, as they say, history. Potter’s has been pouring cider at nearly every one of The Haven’s fundraising events ever since.Read more
The Haven announced today that, in partnership with New City Arts, it is among the 38 recipients of ArtPlace America’s 2015 National Grants Program. ArtPlace, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies dedicated to creative placemaking, is investing $200,000 in Charlottesville, VA, to further integrate arts and culture into the field of community planning and development through The Haven’s Housing2Home program. Out of nearly 1300 applicants, Charlottesville is the only recipient in the state of Virginia.