For the past 15 years, Haven Ministries on Kent Island has been impacting the lives of the poor in Queen Anne’s County. As a faith-based nonprofit, the organization offers quality programs that address housing, hunger, and clothing. For the last fourteen years, Haven Ministries has operated a seasonal shelter at Kent Island Methodist Church for the homeless in the county. Working with local churches, government agencies and other nonprofits, it has been able to provide over 2,500 nights of safe shelter operations; served more than 720 people through its shelter services and outreach; and served more than 2,000 people per year food and clothing through (2) Food Pantries and the Thrift Store.
Krista Pettit, executive director of Haven Ministries, comments, “One of the main issues in our county is the disparity between the income that our clients can earn and the cost of housing in the area. This is exacerbated with few affordable housing options in Queen Anne’s County. As a result, the county must deal with a growing homeless population.”
Haven Ministries participates in the Continuum of Care which is a group of service providers who meet to discuss issues of homelessness on the Eastern Shore. All of these service providers also align to help provide the best care to the homeless population in our region. Haven Ministries has made connections with local veteran groups to help homeless veterans receive appropriate services. Krista explains that Haven Ministries is the only homeless shelter that serves men, women, children in the entirety of Queen Anne’s County. She adds, “We are filling a need that has not been met prior to opening a shelter nine years ago.”
For Ross, a veteran who was a client with Haven Ministries five years ago, the shelter was a lifesaver. As an Army veteran, he was battling some issues and ended up homeless while visiting family in Grasonville during the winter months. He comments, “They helped me get on the right path.”
In addition to just offering a “roof over your head,” Haven Ministries Shelter helps its clients by assigning them to a Case Manager who works with them to connect to county resources for jobs, housing, medical services, and transportation. While staying in the Haven Ministries Shelter, Ross needed a variety of services. His case worker helped connect him to resources that could address his dental and eye issues, as well as his overall health problems. After connecting him to the Cambridge VA Outpatient Clinic, he was able to get help at Perry Point VA Health System. Ross recalls, “After the shelter closed in April, I was then able to transfer to a year-round shelter in Delaware which was close to my medical services at Perry Point. I stayed for at that shelter for two years.”
During this time, Ross was able to get his disability status and eventually a rent-assisted apartment in Cecil County. He has lived independently there now for three years.
Ross adds, “I am in a lot better place than I was. The Shelter offers a lot of help to a lot of people. I met some nice people while I was there. They were like family to me.”
Krista comments, “We align with area churches, nonprofits, and county programs to provide resources to the homeless.”
Among the faith organizations providing volunteers for Haven Ministries are Calvary United Methodist Church, Centreville United Methodist Church, Christ Episcopal Church, Community Baptist Church of Barclay, First Baptist Church, Island Alliance Church, Kent Island United Methodist Church, Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church, Wye Parish, St. Christopher’s Catholic Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Sudlersville United Methodist Church, NEW United Methodist Church, Wye Bible Church, and Wye of Carmichael United Methodist Church.
The Reverend Mark S. Delcuze, Rector of Christ Church Parish, Kent Island, comments, “This is the most ecumenical program I do on the Island. We are all pushing for the same goal – to care for people. When I look out into the room during our meetings, I am reminded of the number of faith groups gathered around the single purpose of helping our neighbors. Haven Ministries is not an institution – it is a group of faith communities allied by a common goal.”
In addition to its Shelter, Haven Ministries offers a Food Pantry with staples like canned fruits and vegetables, as well as poultry and ham, drinks and even freeze pops for the kids. The Food Pantry, located at the gymnasium at Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church, also receives fresh fruits and vegetables seasonally from area farmers. Haven Ministries Thrift Shop, located on Thompson Creek Road near Cracker Barrel in Stevensville offers household items, like sheets and towels, and clothing. Krista comments, “We desire the continuing support of the community through volunteering at the Thrift Shop, Food Pantry, Shelter, and through financial donations. We also rely on supporters to communicate the correct information about Haven Ministries to others.”
With the growing need for a permanent shelter in Queen Anne’s County, the shelter plans to build a new shelter, located at 325 State Street, the same place the Haven Ministries transitional housing program has operated for over three years. The shelter’s new permanent location will be convenient to its clientele, who benefit most from being close to the schools, park, library medical and senior services and employment opportunities on Kent Island. The new facility will be approximately 6,900 square feet. Completion of the new facility will allow the transitional housing program to operate year round while increasing its services and amenities. These amenities include computer areas, a meeting room for classes and counseling, a children’s playroom, a commercial kitchen, a laundry room and elevators.
Pictured are workers at Haven Ministries Shelter at Kent Island Methodist Church. For the past 11 years, Haven Ministries on Kent Island has been impacting the lives of the poor in Queen Anne’s County. As a faith-based nonprofit, the organization offers quality programs that address housing, hunger, and clothing.