October brought devastating news for a local nonprofit that was already grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. A fire ripped through Olathe Storage, wiping out Haven House Transitional Living Center’s off-site storage of items intended to help the homeless families the ministry serves.
Haven House lost items intended for children’s Christmas gifts, as well as what it had been collecting to equip and furnish the daycare it is building. Two other charities, Angels for the Needy and Helping Hands, Open Hearts, also were burned out.
Enter Sharon Million, a dispatcher with the Colorado State Patrol’s Montrose office. Million, with the rest of the Troop 5C crew, has been collecting donated items for Haven House.
“It’s to help people,” she said Wednesday. “They can drop any donations here at the Colorado State Patrol office. They need food, clothes, baby items. They’re trying to set up for their daycare. They also have residents, so any clothing or blankets.”
Haven House meets homeless families and single mothers with tailored programs to help them transition from homelessness, while providing dormitory-style housing for up to 18 months. Each year, it conducts the “Shepherd’s Shopping Spree,” in which kids who have earned tickets or tokens through performing chores swap them for gifts for themselves or family members.
COVID-19 has KO’d the annual motorcycle toy run that Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association sponsors each November. And the October fire depleted toys and other spree items that had been collected all year.
Haven House co-founder Larry Fredericksen called the CSP’s donation drive an “amazing development,” one of many that came about because of a generous community.
“We’re really pleased. It’s come at a good time, too, because our annual toy run that a local motorcycle group did for us, because of the COVID crisis, they had to cancel that event,” he said. “They brought in a whole lot of toys for the children. We’re going to miss that, but this (the CSP’s donation drive) will certainly help compensate.”
Million has so far made two deliveries to Haven House.
“I have a jeep and I’ve filled it up twice. I overfilled it once,” she said.
The whole team was on board with the idea, which fit with other charitable works CSP employees have done in the past, such as an Easter basket drive and delivery to Haven House.
“We try to do something throughout the year for different (groups). We were getting ready to do a drive to give to the needy and heard about Haven House (the fire), so we decided to do it for Haven House,” Million said.
People can either deliver toys, clothing and household items to the CSP at 2420 N. Townsend Ave., or make a direct donation to Haven House. Visit havenhousehomeless.org for more information about donations.
“They have delivered great things,” Haven House Executive Director Rose Verheul said. “This is fantastic. I have 42 children I need to come up with toys for.”
She also noted the loss of the toy drive. “Unfortunately, due to COVID, they can’t do that; that toy run has been canceled,” she said.
Apart from the donation drive, the CSP is collecting monetary donations to sponsor a Thanksgiving meal for a family and a Christmas meal for another family. Million will use the donations to purchase groceries for the meals.
“We appreciate anything anybody can donate and just support the community,” she said.
Haven House is moving forward with is plans to create an onsite daycare to help the working parents who live at the center. A donated modular is on the site and has been placed on a foundation after a groundbreaking ceremony in September, but there have been some delays due to construction complications as the modular is remodeled.
Haven House was able to connect with a Telluride woman who is advising the board about how to complete its licensing.
“We’re happy with what we’re going to end up with,” said Fredericksen.
Haven House is grateful for all of the help it receives, Fredericksen added.
“The community has really stepped up for us. We’re quite happy about the support from the whole community in helping us get through this. It’s attracted more attention here at Haven House and created more community awareness of who we are and what we do. There is a long-time benefit to the support we are receiving.”