Amid the multi-million dollar houses that pepper the North Shore, it’s hard to remember that homelessness happens here.
But as Laura Sabino, executive director for The Lake County Haven, points out: Lake County has some of the wealthiest communities in the United States right next to some of the poorest.
And that’s why a place like Haven exists in a place like Libertyville.
The Haven operates as a transitional shelter that helps women get back on their feet after a situation that has left them, and potentially their children, without a home. The organization consists of an actual shelter, which houses homeless women in crisis for about 3 months, and a longer-term housing program, which helps women through the transitional period of regaining independence.
In order to operate, The Haven relies heavily on private support from individuals, small businesses and houses of worship. So, periodically, the organization opens up their shelter for members of the community to see what homelessness looks like and to get a better idea of how they can help.
“Some people have an idea of what homlessness looks like,” Sabino says, “and it’s so different than what it really is.”
The next open house opportunity is on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The idea is to drop by whenever you want during that time period to stay as long as you like. During this time there will be tours of the shelter as well as women who’ve graduated from the program on hand to talk about their experience.
While the most pressing need for The Haven is monetary donations, the shelter is also in need of volunteers to help staff its programs. Volunteer opportunities include:
- Writing resumes
- Performing mock interviews
- Driving women to appointments
- Staffing the shelter
- Running special events
- Serving on The Haven’s board and committees
- Writing grant proposals
- Speaking in communities to spread the word about Haven
The Haven has been around for 17 years and has changed the lives of more than 680 women and children who have gone through their programs. At any given time, the shelter and housing program sleep about 30 individuals, and the ultimate goal is to lead women to independent living.
The Haven’s mission: To shelter women and their children transitionally, thus providing them with the opportunities necessary to make life changes, which lead to independence.
Sabino says the women who pass through The Havens doors are fully capable of taking care of themselves, they just have to be empowered to do so.
“We have a favorite saying around the shelter: Failure is not the falling it’s the staying down,’ she says. “Our clients fall down, but they don’t stay down. And that’s what we’re about.”
For more information about The Lake County Haven volunteer opportunities and open house, please visit their website at www.lakecountyhaven.org or call 847-680-1703.