There were smiles all around when Haven Ministries held an open house for the public to see the newly- designated space for its seasonal shelter at Kent Island United Methodist Church in Stevensville. The shelter which previously occupied three classrooms in the church has received a new open space including a common room consisting of a living room, dining room and kitchen, as well as an adjacent room with bunk beds to accommodate men, women and children.
According to Don Lewis, chairperson of the church’s Board of Trustees, the church reconfigured its Sunday School rooms to accommodate the changes. He comments, “The new space is less work as we no longer have to transition the space each day from one thing to another – setting up cots at night and breaking them down in the mornings. The new space can remain set up for the shelter which is a win-win for both the church and the shelter.”
He adds, “This has been a very easy transition because Haven Ministries has been operating its shelter very smoothly in the church for 10 years.”
The church has also extended its hours to accommodate the shelter, which is open from 6 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. daily. Kent Island United Methodist Church is one of 15 churches who participate in supporting the shelter. Pastor David Bennett of Kent Island United Methodist Church welcomes the newly designated shelter space, stating, “For our congregation to have the shelter in our midst is strengthening the church’s role in the community. It has helped us to understand the responsibility we have to meet the needs of the community and to care for those in our community.”
He adds, “I hope the relationship we and other churches have had with the Haven Ministries will help the community understand that the people here just need a little bit of help. Homelessness is something our community can embrace – we don’t have to be fearful of it.”
According to Mia Cranford, Fundraising Coordinator for Haven Ministries, “The new shelter space has come alive. There is a positive energy now which translates into our mission to help people feel at home here and to work toward eventually having this feeling again in their own homes.”
Haven Ministries has focused on providing a very homey and comfortable space for its guests. Cots have been replaced with permanent bunk beds and small Sunday School chairs have been replaced with comfortable overstuffed couches and chairs, as well as café tables for eating. The furnishings and paint for the new space were funded by private donations to Haven Ministries.
Cranford adds, “The church is showing the love of Christ by welcoming shelter guests to the newly configured space. It has really been a community effort. Local artist Sue Stockman of St. Michaels, MD, was commissioned to create a beautiful mural for the shelter’s common space.”
Stockman recalls Haven Ministries executive director Krista Pettit wanted a mural designed specifically for the space to go along with all new and special furnishings throughout. After Pettit received a grant from Richard Marks from Dock Street Foundation, the mural was created. Stockman thought the mural was a great metaphor for the lives of homeless individuals – taking things broken and discarded to create something beautiful out of them, making everyone feel valuable and hopeful.”
Stockman adds, “The mural was also a very personal project for me, as my ex-husband died last year and was homeless at the time of his death.”
Following her ex-husband’s death, Stockman began work on the mural with her daughter, Sequoia Chupek in their studio in St. Michaels. She states, “I recognized how important it was for us to be working together during this time. It was just as therapeutic for Sequoia as it was for me as we co-created this piece of art.” She adds, “I have learned that if we are open, things are brought to us that make a real difference in our lives. This project has had a significant impact on our lives, as well as those receiving it at the shelter. Working on the mural has helped us learn not to judge people who are homeless as they travel their own journeys.”
Haven Ministries offers a 24-hour a day program, with daytime services open to the public at the Resource Center and nighttime shelter services at the shelter, except for weekends when its Resource Center is closed. In addition to its seasonal shelter and Resource Center at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Centreville, the organization operates a Thrift Store, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and a Food Pantry on the third Friday of every month. For further information or to become a Friend of Haven Ministries, visit haven-ministries.org or call 410-739-4363.