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Giving Tuesday with Haven of Grace | Interview

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This year for Giving Tuesday, we're partnering up with the Haven of Grace, right here in St.Louis, Missouri.  They're a literal haven for homeless pregnant mothers, providing a safe, nurturing home, educational programs and long-term support for mother and child with programs for up to 13 years!

I sat down over Zoom with Tanzania Johnson to talk more about the Haven of Grace. 

1.What is your position at Haven of Grace and your responsibilities?

My position at the Haven is Program coordinator.
One of my responsibilities is to screen potential clients to make sure they meet our criteria.  One of the requirements to enter our program is to be drug and COVID free so I arrange for testing.   I give the tours of our facility and explain guidelines of our program.  I also keep track of supplies and donations.

2. How and why did the Haven of Grace get established?

The Haven was founded in 1988 as an outreach ministry of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church of Ladue, Missouri, in hopes of breaking the cycle of homelessness, poor health, dependency and child and adult abuse.  The ministry met with local community leaders and found that services for these women and families were badly needed.  So, the work began.

3. How many staff and volunteers are there?

We have 8 full time staff members and an abundance of volunteers who work tirelessly alongside our staff.  We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and need all the help we can get.  We could not be successful without them.

Our volunteers have their hands in everything from working on fundraising events to providing childcare while mothers attend classes during the week.

4.How many women and families do you help yearly?

We currently have 35 women in “The Haven” program which is our first-tier program where they can stay for a year.

Next, they go to our transition program.  Here, we currently have 4 families who are living in our furnished apartments where they continue to receive support and services for another two years.  Then we have 20 women in our aftercare program which continues to offer support for the following 10 years.

 5. What kind of services do you provide your clients?

We provided a place to live, educational programs, and long-term support to break the chain of generational poverty.

Upon arrival they are given a place to live and work with staff to create short-term and long-term goals that carry across our program.  The haven moms create these goals in seven core areas: Parenting, Housing, Independent Living, Physical & Emotional Health, Education, Employment, and Spiritual & Character development.  They are required to take classes in prenatal care, parenting, CPR, safe sleep, nutrients, and shaken baby syndrome which are taught by “Parents as Teachers”.  We also provided GED coaching and continuing educational support. 

6. Can you give me examples of what your clients have moved on to do after they have benefited from your organization’s services and is no longer in need?

We have so many success stories.  We have a client who opened a restaurant called Burger 809.  She gives back to the Haven by donating food for some of our events.  We have a client who went on to get her bachelor’s degree and is planning to pursue her masters.  And we even have a client who works at Enterprise bank.  She came to the program without a high school education and in our program, she succeeded to get her GED.  We also have a client who now works for the IRS and is supporting her family successfully.

8. Can you tell me about the communities these women are from and how they are under resourced and underrepresented? 

The women come from all over Missouri, not just St. Louis county.   They need to meet the requirement of being a state of Missouri resident. There are plenty of resources available to these women, they just need to know where they are and how to get it.  We rely on word of mouth and our partnership with United Way to get the word out about the programs we offer.

 9. What is the organization's vision for the next 10 years?

Our goal build is to build a full-time daycare on site.  The biggest obstacle our clients face is an affordable safe place to put their children while they are working, and we want to be able to provide this.  Also, we would like to raise enough funds to renovate our community kitchen.  It is old and in need of a facelift.

 10. What is the most gratifying part of the work you do?

My love from my job comes from the support that we give throughout these ladies' pregnancy and waiting for their bundles of joy to arrive.  I love showering them with love as I feel in a small way part of their journey during pregnancy.  It gives me great joy to see these babies grow up in our program

11. How can our Under the Nile community donate to your organization?

We are grateful for any donations.  We are always in need of hygiene items for our moms and babies, linens, diapers, wipes, towels, and clothes. We are also grateful for monetary donations and you can donate on our website.



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