"They are really helping a lot of people out. The Haven is like family. That’s what I like about The Haven," said guest David Pearcy, 20, of Mattoon, who has been staying at the shelter with his mother, Amanda Good.
The Haven, 1812 Western Ave., plans to hold a series of fundraising and awareness events for its services during national Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, set for Nov. 13-21. In addition, this nonprofit organization has invited community members to help provide Christmas presents for its overnight guests, which regularly include families with children, through its annual Gift of Giving program.
Executive Director Chris Davis said The Haven can host up to 27 overnight guests if its two family bedrooms are filled to capacity, has an average of 23-26 per month, and has to periodically turn away some because the shelter is full. He said the shelter is currently hosting 26 guests, 85 percent from Coles County.
"We are on the frontlines against homelessness," Davis said, adding that The Haven strives to offer hope. "Without hope, people can’t overcome whatever it is that has placed them in this situation."
Davis said The Haven works with a network of charitable organizations and social service providers. He said they help arrange for motel stays when the shelter is full, transportation for guests needing to move on, mental health or substance abuse counseling for those in need, and permanent housing for those residing locally. He said The Haven hosted 138 guests in 2020, with 88 exiting to permanent housing, and has hosted more than 115 so far this year.
In addition, Davis said The Haven community kitchen has been serving 40-60 total meals per day for its lunch from noon-1 p.m. and supper from 6-7 p.m. These meals remain takeout only for non-overnight guests due to COVId-19 concerns.
Guest Matthew Hunt from Centralia said there are no programs like this in his area, so he was grateful when a friend suggested The Haven to him. Hunt said they have helped him obtain a new ID and a job, and are working on getting him permanent housing.
"I feel like I have some kind of structure behind me," Hunt said of the Haven.
Hunt said his stay at The Haven has inspired him to be supportive of new arriving guests and to want to help with the upcoming Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign. Hunt said he encourages community members to support the shelter because they never know if their own sons or grandsons might need such services someday.
Jennifer White, secretary with The Haven board, said the Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week events will start with the Mattoon Moose Lodge hosting a monopoly tournament at 10 a.m. Nov. 13. White said this will be followed by The Haven building hosting a drive through meal from 5 to 8 p.m. Nov. 17 featuring deBuhr"s Feed & Seed owner Bernie deBuhr’s red beans and rice recipe, plus cornbread and dessert, for a free will donation.
White said The Haven will then hold a "One Night in a Car" event from 7 p.m. Nov. 20 to 7 a.m. Nov. 21 in a K.C. Summers lot downtown. She said community members are invited to sleep overnight in their vehicles to experience a situation that faces many homeless individuals. A presentation will be held at approximately 8 p.m. Participation will be $25 per person, with sponsorships available at that price too. Portable restrooms will be on site.
Community members can RSVP for drive through meal and "One Night in a Car" at https://mattoonhaven.org/.
Looking ahead to the holidays, Shelter Services Coordinator Alexis Morton said Gift of Giving program signs up community members to "adopt" shelter guests and purchase a few Christmas presents for them. She said even a simple toy for a child or a pair of new socks for an adult can be very meaningful for them.
"We cry watching them open their presents. It’s amazing," Morton said. "We get donations (of supplies) all the time, but just having that one personal item fills their hearts."
The Haven also has needs for towels, bedding and other household supplies throughout the year; and for volunteers to help cook and serve lunch and dinner, or to prepare meals ahead of time. More information about helping with these needs or signing up for the Gift of Giving is available by calling Morton at 217-234-7237, extension 2 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Rob Stroud at 217-238-6861.
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November 6, 2021 at 07:59PM