Courtesy of Anne Marie Noble
After seven years of delay because of funding, The Haven of Portage County expects to open its doors soon.
“It started in 2015,” said Anne Marie Noble, the executive director. “What we thought was going to be a $680,000 project turned out to be $1.6 million. So we had to raise money and gain the confidence of our donors that we are going to do what we say we are going to do.”
The Haven has raised $150,000 through the annual sleep-in-your-car fundraiser, raffle diners, themed galas and more.
“People’s hearts are big, pumping and they want to help,” Noble said.
The Haven holds 68 beds in the facility: 32 beds for men and women and four for families.
The Haven not only provides shelter but also long-term healing for its guests. Chris Rucker, the program director, is in charge of making sure all resources are in one place for their guests.
“What we want to do is put things in place so that they can make use of it. If they need their Social Security card, birth certificate, GED or if they just need help whether it’s a drug-related issue or mental health,” said Rucker. “It’s our job to be the middle person to connect them with all the resources they need.”
The Haven estimates that there are more than 100 homeless people in Kent and Ravenna, mainly living under bridges, behind stores and strip malls and near public parks. With Portage County’s only overnight homeless shelter, Miller Community House, only housing 22 individuals, the Haven is “excited to serve,” Rucker said.
The homeless population is steadily increasing nationally by almost 1 percent, according to the World Population Review. In 2022, Ohio had 10,345 homeless individuals as of Jan. 2022.
Kent State’s Crisis, Advocacy, Resources, Education and Support Center is currently not associated with the center but The Haven is open to collaboration to help students in need.
The Haven has received phone calls every day for a year from one gentleman in need of shelter, Noble said.
“The guests aren’t looking for a hand out, they are looking for a hand up,” she said.
The Haven is a faith based organization whose mission is to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ while providing shelter and promoting healing. However, anyone who is in need of their services is welcomed.
“We had challenges and obstacles we had to overcome but we are a faith based organization,” Noble said. “If we didn’t keep the faith we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Individuals can contact The Haven for volunteer opportunities via the email at [email protected] The Haven is located at 2645 OH-59, Ravenna, OH 44266.
Taylor Haydu is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]