2020 Shore Update Best Of

Front Line Hero

By Marcus Hoffman

Krista Pettit, founder of Haven Ministries, honored as our front line hero.

For the last several years, Haven Ministries has served an important role in our community-helping those going through economic hardship. Whether it be getting food on

the table for a hungry family or giving someone without a home a safe place to sleep, Haven Ministries provides an invaluable service to Queen Anne’s County.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown only accentuates Haven Ministries’ importance.

Many lost their jobs and were forced to deal with a backed up unemployment system and

suddenly had to turn to Haven Ministries for help. Even some who didn’t experience financial hardship had to turn to Haven Ministries during the brief food shortage. Because of everything Haven Ministries has done for Queen Anne’s County during COVID, we think they embody the essence of #Shorestrong. I got to speak with Krista Pettit, the founder of Haven Ministries, to learn a little more about the organization’s origins, how they adapted to best serve the community during the pandemic and the role faith plays in what Haven Ministries does.

What led to you starting Haven Ministries?

Many years ago, my family and I personally experienced financial hardship. In order to make ends meet, we had to accept help from our family including our church family. As difficult

as that was, I experienced the power of the church in walking alongside those facing difficult times and that changed my life forever. During this timeframe at a church worship service, I heard God call to me, telling me to start a homeless shelter. After ignoring this command for some time, the burden to start a shelter became overwhelming. One day I cried out to God and

asked him how I was to start a shelter, and He replied – “call the churches.” I started calling the area churches who affirmed that they were indeed interested in joining the efforts of helping the homeless. I quickly scheduled a meeting, and Haven Ministries was born.

How has COVID changed how Haven Ministries does things? Has the transition been difficult?

Haven Ministries’ essential services have remained open throughout the pandemic. In order to meet HUD and CDC recommendations, we have had to totally reconfigure how we distribute services – which has led to drive-thru food pantries, completing applications for financial assistance by phone, and relocating the shelter to a hotel. To meet the increased need for food, Haven Ministries opened a head- quarters with a food pantry that is open five days a week for

consistent, efficient and dignified food distribution. We were also invited into Sudlersville to serve in an area experiencing high food insecurity.  The homeless shelter which usually closes the end of April, has remained open throughout the year to meet the need in this extraordinary time. To date, 32 people have been served at the shelter hotel since March. The greatest change I have seen is the difficulty of raising funds when all of our spring, summer and fall fundraisers have been canceled due to health and safety issues. Trying to raise all funds virtually is quite a challenge.

Have you witnessed something you thought was particularly outstanding that someone else did to help bring our community together?

I have witnessed the community agencies come together through the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and other collaborations to tackle COVID related issues in Queen Anne’s County. It has been amazing to watch how we all come together to meet the challenges of this unique time in history. There are so many public servants and volunteers who, out of love and concern for others, do amazing things.

Can you share a story that particularly touched your heart while you were serving our community during COVID?

A young man came to one of our food distribution events after recently losing his job due to the COVID crisis. He couldn’t believe he was there; he said he never saw himself having to accept this kind of help. Although it was humbling, he shared that he was very grateful to be able to bring food home to his family. It is just one story, but it has been told over and over again this past year by different folks. It reminds me how important it is for the community to help those in need, but also to treat them with dignity and respect.

How has COVID affected you personally?

I think I have been too busy to reflect on it! Many years ago, I began starting each day early in the morning with a time of prayer and reading of scripture. This discipline helps me start each day prepared for whatever will come my way. This private time with God reminds me that He is in control, and I can trust Him. Because of this, I have not been personally worried during this time, but it has been difficult to watch the challenges facing my children (and other young people in our community). My daughter had the difficult decision of returning to school with the real possibility of being sent home early. My son missed out on many of his senior year activities

and now he is at boot camp to become a Marine… and we may not be able to watch him graduate. So while I am at peace, I am also saddened by this particular time we live in. I grieve for all who are hurting and who have lost so much. But I also have hope, because I know greater days are ahead. Haven Ministries is more important now than ever, and we think they truly embody what it means to be Shore Strong. As Krista said, raising funds during a pandemic is difficult and If you would like to help support Haven Ministries, you can go to www.haven-ministries.org to find the many ways that you can help.

HAVEN MINISTRIES was also recognized as an

‘Organization that Makes Our Community a Better Place’

‘Organization Exemplifying #ShoreStrong During COVID’

‘Volunteers with the Biggest Hearts’

They help others who are less fortunate in our community… They are dedicated to helping those in need… They bring volunteers together to help those in our community who are most in need…

OUR DAILY THREAD was also recognized as an

‘Organization that Makes Our Community a Better Place’

“Our Daily Thread is a great community service and wonderful place to shop and find deals.”