Since 2011, Haven House has helped Montrose and Delta counties by providing homeless transitional services from its location in Olathe.
Nichole Guest, resource developer at Haven House, stated that many people haven’t heard of Haven House, but that it, as a faith-based organization, helps the homeless population transition into self-sustaining lives.
“It’s a group of people who were concerned about the community and wanted to find a solution, and they basically got together and bought this building and got the funding together to start this organization,” Guest said.
Essentially, people who are facing homelessness can come with their children and stay with low rent. According to Guest, Haven House currently serves 75 participants with 25 children. Additionally, as an added bonus of the organization, Haven House works with Delta High School to reunite children with their parents. Guest said Haven House currently has eight cases of that nature.
Haven House, like most organizations, ran into serious issues as the COVID-19 pandemic was declared, bringing with it restrictions that hampered the nonprofit’s way of operating.
“[When] the governor’s order came in, we had to lock down completely,” Guest said. “Our staff wasn’t even here. There were just a couple of us who live on-site that were here running the facility and we were completely locked down and couldn’t go anywhere. No one could work, so obviously it definitely put a wrench in things.”
In March, the changes forced Haven House into providing schooling for participating children in its program. Coming this fall, it's facing the possibility of starting out the new school year in the same fashion, but according to Guest, the facility staff has had time to prepare for this.
“We got a classroom donated, so we’re actually setting up a new classroom that’s dedicated to the kids’ education,” Guest said, explaining that the classroom is a modular building that will be on the Haven House premises. “We do have teachers that are coming in. If it is that they can’t go back to school, then we’ll be running school from here.” The situation is uncertain at this time.
With this ideal, Haven House will be raising funds, especially with the lack of funds coming in from community donations due to participants’ community projects.
Mainly, Haven House will be holding a golf fundraiser at Cobble Creek in Montrose on Aug. 29. Since most of the summer events have been canceled, Guest said the facility is heavily relying on this tournament to help with day-to-day operations.
It will also be relying on continuous donations to handle the purchasing of general school supplies, such as binders, paper, backpacks and even some computers.
“We do have a school supply drive going on right now on social media,” Guest said. “And we can always use volunteers in the classroom to work with the kids. Tutors are always really important.”
If public school does start up again in the fall, which Guest admitted is likely, Haven House will have the resources still available to provide tutoring and learning space for the students on its premises.
These adaptations for the new year will come at the end of a difficult summer in which Haven House could not adequately hold its traditional programs.
“Typically, we have a really active summer program for the kids,” Guest said. “So we do community service, we’re out in the community being involved with them, sharing ministry and stuff like that.” However, that programming was unable to take place this summer.
The Haven House staff has focused more instead on activities that are away from the public. For example, it had people from the library deliver books.
New families that came in have to go through a two-week quarantine process, whereas people who leave the premises have to go through a shorter bout of isolation as well.
Nevertheless, Guest assured that the Haven House is still around to serve Delta and Montrose counties.
Guest’s view of Haven House is one of great importance, in fact, as she stated that she initially came to the shelter three years ago at a time when she was homeless.
“I was homeless and I brought my kids here and now I work for the organization,” Guest said. “It’s a wonderful place to help people get back on their feet.”
Anyone who wishes to learn more about Haven House, participate in an upcoming event or donate directly to the organization can visit the Haven House website at havenhousehomeless.org.