By Caitlin Switzer
OLATHE—(March 16) For someone living on the streets or in a car, just getting safely through the day—and night–can be an overwhelming burden. Attaining a new job or an independent lifestyle can seem like impossible dreams. Lending a hand up when it is most needed is the idea behind Haven House, a 501(c)3 non-profit housed in the former 36-unit Olathe dormitory at 4806 North River Road.
Haven House does not focus on the problem, but on the people—offering the transitional shelter and support needed to take one step at a time toward a better life. The two-year-old program serves Montrose, Delta and Ouray counties and is faith-based, and organized to help meet not only physical but spiritual needs.
“The goal of the program is to help get families stabilized and back on the road to permanent housing and self-sufficiency,” said program manager Larry Fredericksen of Haven House. “We are not an emergency shelter, and we are careful who we allow in. We can’t have someone who is disruptive to the program.”
Residents should have no history of violence, and no drug or alcohol addictions, he said. Drug tests are administered prior to admittance, and if tests are positive, that individual is closely monitored. Those with serious mental illnesses are not a good fit in the Haven House environment.
“Each family will spend four sessions with a licensed clinical and pastoral counselor,” Fredericksen said. “We also offer enrichment programs like life skills, and we are developing a job readiness program. We have case managers who run the clinical side of our program, and meet once a week with families. We have a program for children called Whiz Kids, a tutoring mentorship program where volunteers meet weekly with the children, one on one. The first half hour is about math, and the second focuses on reading.”
Haven House is currently serving 35 people, and has housed as many as 50, he said. Of the 180 people who have gone through the program, many have achieved success in finding permanent housing.
“One family, the dad had been making a six-figure income and lost his job. A child developed a serious illness, and they were just wiped out,” Fredericksen said. “When they came to live with us, they had a cluncker and their clothes. But the guy started a business, and became very successful. Now he is based in Grand Junction, and has 15 employees.”
Another family, although not homeless, has chosen to live at Haven House as a mission.
“We had space available, and we believe families who are homeless can benefit from the spiritual support,” Fredericksen said. “So far it has worked—they don’t impose themselves on people, and they provide a model of what a family can look like.”
By helping adults with families, Haven House helps move children out of poverty and homelessness. Families pay 20 percent of their own costs while living at Haven House. With two acres of land, kids have plenty of room to play.
In addition to Fredericksen and his wife Lillian, Haven House relies on eight to ten regular volunteers, and a small paid staff of two case workers and two office staff. With an overall budget of around $130,000, more volunteers are greatly needed.
“I am 75 years old,” Fredericksen said, “My wife and I are retired, and we enjoy this; it has been an opportunity to give back and we get a lot out of it. But I need somebody who will want to step into my shoes.
“We benefit the community.”
To learn more, call 970-323-5280, or mail firstname.lastname@example.org.