Thursday, August 17, 2017  

The Haven
The House of Hope Opens a New Door for Those in Need

“The dream for our House of Hope,” reports Haven Executive Director Ellen Yackel, “began almost five years ago.  We knew that our existing shelter was beyond economical repair and this, combined with the growing needs of our area, put us on a path that brought us to where we are today.” 

For the past 20 years, a large farmhouse owned by Richmond County has served as our shelter.  The farmhouse allowed the Haven to house up to sixteen individuals at one time.  “We are very grateful to Richmond County for providing this facility to us,” remarked Yackel.  “Over the last 20 years, many women and children have found a haven at the farmhouse during a difficult, and often life-threatening, time in their lives.  With the help of our staff and the safe shelter provided at the farmhouse, many lives have been rebuilt and bodies and spirits have healed.”   The farmhouse, however, which was built in the 1950s, is slated for future demolition and it would not be cost effective to make the needed major repairs. Those at the Haven found themselves in desperate need of a new shelter, and their dream to build our House of Hope needed to become a reality much sooner than they had anticipated.

The Haven’s Board of Directors developed a Capital Campaign Committee chaired by Director Andy Kauders.  Other Directors serving with Kauders were Stacey Carden, John Clickener, Hazel Farmer, Ronnie Gerster, Suzanne Rennolds, and Executive Director Yackel.  Plans were developed for a 32-bed, dormitory-style shelter for privacy and flexibility in family placement, along with a separate building for administration and programs.  The land, nearly 2 acres, was generously donated by Herb and Bill Carden of Westmoreland County, after that fundraising began.

Yackel reports, “The project was moving forward but slowly until Director Hazel Farmer and her husband, The Reverend John Farmer, had a chance conversation with Paul Summers of P.F.
Summers of Virginia, LLC.   Summers, who lives in White Stone and whose business is headquartered in Williamsburg, was made aware of the Haven’s situation and became very interested in helping to see the House of Hope become a reality.
“We have had a lot of support from our community, through both manpower and financial support; but we are only standing in our new facility today because of Paul Summers and his wonderful crew.  Summers donated a significant amount of labor and management for the project, and actually brought the project to completion for approximately $600,000, less than half the amount of the initial estimates.  Contractors were also able to conclude construction nearly two months before the projected completion date.”

Summers stated that he had been looking for an organization where as a company, he and his team could make a significant impact.  He wanted a project where his entire staff could feel as much a part of what was taking place as his management team.  Summers and several members of his staff met with the Haven’s management and the members of the Capital Campaign Committee to learn more about the organization and its mission.  Summers stated that what he learned in that initial meeting about the people who run the Haven, the services provided, and the needs of our area, convinced him that the House of Hope was the project where he and his team could make that significant impact. 

“Helping to build the House of Hope was a great thing for us to do as a group,” said Summers.  “It has been such a worthwhile and rewarding endeavor for us and one that we could all participate in and see the fruits of our labor.” 

Darrell Wahl, Construction Manager for Summers, was on site every day as construction progressed.  Wahl reported, “The local help we had was outstanding, and many of the sub-contractors on the project volunteered their own services and in many instances the materials. Everyone involved was committed to seeing the House of Hope become a reality for those who seek its shelter and safety.  And everyone knew the need was immediate.”

The old shelter during the past 3 years housed 127 adults and 136 children, who shared 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  In the last year alone 56 women and 55 children resided in the shelter.   “We are so grateful to Paul and his team; to our volunteers who give so freely of their time and energy; and to everyone in our communities who have so generously provided their financial support” said Yackel.  “I want also to extend a special thanks to our hardworking Board of Directors, who have not only spear- headed our fundraising but who have also rolled up their sleeves and been onsite many days, doing everything from moving furniture to installing the blinds.”