Why Haven House Is So Important From Someone Who Was Helped — and Why It Is So Important To Save It! December 13, 2013

by: Laura Olmstead
We Care Community Services Food and Housing Program Director

Yesterday I was speaking with someone about the importance of having a homeless shelter here in Dayton. How saddened I am that we will be closing ours soon and have been seeking one and have some very good options with a little help from the community.

Some years ago a lady came to me in need of shelter. I do not remember all the details. She looked worn out, dirty and at the “end of her rope”. I was at first skeptical because of her appearance and her distressed behavior. However, her need was great and she said she would volunteer, do anything to have a place to stay and a fresh start. So she went into our shelter. In between her looking for work and cleaning the shelter she would come and volunteer at the We Care Food Pantry.  Within a few days she found a job. Within a few more days she found a second job. We became close over time. I connected her with another woman in the area who could help lift her up and be her friend as she got her life back on track. Before long she became very close to not only myself and the other lady, but also every person in the shelter with her was touched by her heart and her ways. She hit many “brick walls” in her journey forward. She left a life behind her from Las Vegas that was filled with drugs, alcohol, prostitution and crime. She became an inspiration to everyone she met. Still rough around the edges but her personality and pure heart always outshined the struggles. As she grew and became more secure and was experiencing a life she had only hoped to for years she felt it was time to return to Vegas and face some things she had left behind there. You see, her mother was not a prime example; he mother introduced her at a young age to heroin, prostitution and a life of begging and stealing at a very young age. When she came here to Dayton, she was a fugitive. She had a prison sentence to fulfill. She felt she had to get the “monkey off her back” in order to move forward. I, as well as, every person she encountered in her time here did not want her to go; we all came to love her very very much. I begged her not to go. I did not feel that she was ready or strong enough to face her past yet. She did however, with a grateful heart, feel it was time. She returned and continued in a jail ministry. She told people of the kindness she encountered in this little town in Dayton Tennessee. We received letters and phone calls. Shortly after serving her sentence she passed away. I will not try to figure out why or how. All I know is this little town, with its little shelter forever changed her life. But not hers alone, to this day every person she encountered is a better person for it. We very easily could have turned her away, sorry go to a bigger town, and she may not have had the life changing experience she did. We all would not have had this life changing experience if she had not come to our little shelter. I know, I know for certain one day I will be able to see her again, hug her, and how thankful I am that she was brought here.

This is but one person. One person who stayed in our shelter over the years.  Is every story the same? No.  Does every story end in success? No. Can we help every single person we meet? I sure would like to. But we cannot. However, there are enough people who care, enough resources that we can continue this service….this much needed service.  We have a place, we just need to get together and construct some pod homes to use to keep these precious people off the streets and give them the time and help they need to change their lives and in turn maybe change ourselves and others for the better.

Anyone interested in assisting and getting these homes constructed contact Laura 775-1000 or Alton 775-4333.

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