History of Haven Home for Girls
As a very young child, at the age of 7, I lost my mother to domestic violence. So much confusion, many unanswered questions, a lot of asking ‘why me’ kept trapped inside of me. I always felt an emptiness from that loss, especially during my childhood and teenage years. It’s like I was searching for someone or something to fill the loss that I felt. Of course I didn’t know what I was searching for at the time. At the time it just felt like I was all alone, misunderstood, on my own. I didn’t like feeling like that, so I made a goal for myself; to make sure that other girls who may be in similar situations do not feel the emptiness and uncertainty that I felt; that they would always have somebody to turn to for support.
When I was 28 I began working at a boy’s residential facility as a house parent. As a house parent, I lived there with my family and we cared for the boys who were sent into our home. I worked with / helped many boys during my employment (I say employment, but it really was so much more than that). It is while I worked at the boy’s home that I realized how I could help girls; I could open a home for girls!
In 2008, through many doors opening and many things falling into place, I opened a home called Laura Walker Project; named after my mother. This home served girls who were pregnant and parenting; up the the age of 21. This home allowed these girls to stay with their babies instead of being separated. This home provided them with lifelong support persons. I contracted with county agencies to serve girls from 17 counties in Pennsylvania. Our capacity was 16, and we often had a full house with a waiting list. There was no doubt that this service was needed, and through the work that we did, there was no doubt that we were making a difference in the lives of the young ladies we served. In 2011, the property we were leasing was no longer an option for us. As a result, the home closed. This was a very difficult time, but I knew that that wasn’t the end. I knew that we had helped many girls, and I knew that we had provided them with support systems for life. I knew that the work we were doing was important, and I knew that I would open another home.
Immediately after we closed Laura Walker Project, in 2011, I formed the non-profit organization; Haven Home for Girls. A woman who I worked with at Laura Walker Project had relocated with her husband to the York, Pa. area. Together we decided to open a home near her. Of course, we didn’t have any money to purchase a property, but we knew it would work out. We found a property that would be perfect. When we found out who purchased it, I contacted the realtor and asked him if they had a purpose for the property. I described our vision and our drive. They did have a purpose for the property, so the door seemed to be closed for us at that location.
Several months later, however, amazing things started to happen. That realtor called me and said that the purpose they had intended the property for had fallen through. He wanted to know if we were still interested in the house! I told him that we were, but that we didn’t have enough money to buy it. It turns out that the property owners were interested in leasing to us. Additionally, $20,000 was presented to Haven Home for Girls to help with opening the home. We were able to open this home and serve the same population as we did before; pregnant and parenting teenagers up to age 21!
On December 1, 2012, we signed our lease agreement at our first location. I say first because the vision is to have many homes, so that every youth who finds herself in the situation of being pregnant or with a child has a place where she can stay with her baby, and has a lifelong support system. God’s hand has been in Haven Home for Girls since before its inception. There is no doubt in my mind that this plan was in the works long before I knew it. Haven Home for Girls wouldn’t be where we are today without divine intervention.