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Natural Awakenings Space & Treasure Coast Florida

Haven Sweet Haven

Apr 01, 2011 01:12AM ● By Diane Carr

Every child deserves a safe, loving home environment; however, this is not always the case. Child abuse and neglect continue to be a serious problem worldwide and children raised in abusive family situations develop special needs including emotional, physical, and developmental delays.

In order to meet the needs of neglected, abused, and abandoned children, The Haven Guild began in 1990 with nearly 100 founding members. The Guild is a non-profit organization that supports The Haven for Children and now has over 350 volunteer members. Kim Straehla, Executive Director, says, "This is what sets our program ahead of others. We think of our volunteers as our children’s extended family."

The Haven’s goal is to nourish and protect children, guide them toward positive self-growth, and provide therapeutic shelter care in a homelike environment. This is achieved through three homes that offer sanctuary to an average of ten children each. "We currently have 31 children ages 2 to 14," states Kim, "and there are many services our children receive that are not only important but life saving." Children arrive with assorted problems from medical neglect to physical or sexual abuse. Many are in need of physical therapy, occupational therapy, or counseling to help them become healthy, overcome developmental disabilities, or deal with emotional issues.

"The children would tell you The Haven is the family they never had" shares Kim. "For the first time in many of our kids’ lives, they have someone who loves them unconditionally and allows them the opportunity to get back what they lost in their childhood." One simple way this is achieved is upon arrival, each child is assigned a buddy. Eventually the child feels there is always someone to spend time with, best friends to live with, fun outings to go on, and they are always surrounded by adults who love them.

One of Kim’s favorite success stories is Mary who began her life in the neonatal unit addicted to drugs. After being shuffled around for two years, she finally arrived at The Haven. Two years later the biological rights of her parents were terminated and this December, Mary celebrated her one year anniversary of being adopted by her forever family with a baptism.

The Haven’s success depends not only on the support of government programs, but professional services, trained staff members, dedicated volunteers, and private donations. Volunteerism is crucial for success as well as fundraisers such as the Havenly Affair, The Haven Challenge Golf Tournament, and the Melbourne 5k Run. March 28 is the Eighth Annual Haven Challenge Golf Tournament at Suntree Country Club. The tournament will be followed by an evening social, dinner, live auction, and raffles. Anyone interested in sponsorships, donations, playing, or volunteering may contact Pat Hughes at 321-773-2557. Also coming up April 4 is the 27th Annual Downtown Melbourne 5k Run to benefit The Haven.

The Lamb Shoppe, a thrift store located at 1765 South Patrick Drive in Indian Harbour Beach, is totally operated and managed by volunteers. All profits are donated to support the residential homes of The Haven. Community support is always appreciated through monetary donations, goods, services, membership, and fundraisers, but with recent cuts to social service programs, "our greatest current need is financial support," explains Kim.

The Haven truly is a safe place for children in need and it is expressed most eloquently by an adoptive mother who said, "The Haven is like being in a home living with all your favorite relatives that you can imagine, surrounded by a beautiful home of love."

For more information about The Haven call 321-676-6888, email [email protected], or visit www.thehavenforchildren.com.

"The child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him." ~ Pablo Casals.

"There’s no place like home." ~ Dorothy

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