Haven House, a temporary shelter for homeless families, received a donation exceeding $14,000 from Buddy’s Pizza grand opening in Lansing, but still needs more to ensure they can continue providing services to local families.
Founded in 1983, the nonprofit provides food, transportation and clothing resources, job resources, permanent housing help, and an exit program for participants. According to Development Director Molly Cook, it takes just over $1,000 to shelter and re-house one family. Donations from the Detroit-based pizza restaurant alone will enable at least 14 families to benefit from Haven House’s services.
“Buddy’s Pizza contacted us earlier this year, and said they always choose a charity partner when they open up in a new community,” Cook said. “We did a tour for them, and we just mutually got along with each other really well. It was a really good and natural partnership.”
Originally, Buddy’s Pizza aimed to open in March, but due to COVID, their timeline was pushed back. Despite the setback, their commitment to support Haven House never faltered.
“They’ve totally blown us away,” Cook said. “They actually gave five families in our follow-up program, our partners in progress program, free pizza for a year. They donated well over $14,000 to us from their opening day proceeds. They’re also going to be doing pizza drop offs for our shelter. I think what is so awesome about Buddy’s is that they are not looking for just a one-time partnership. They’ve just been wonderful to work with, and we’re really glad they’re up and running in Lansing now.”
The hefty donation comes on the heels of Haven House’s adjustment to operating in COVID 19 times. On March 13, Haven House moved families offsite into hotels, and began working on making safety changes.
“We received a grant from The Community Foundation to purchase PPE for our staff.” Cook said. “We are putting tons of different signage up in the shelter to make sure that there are policies in terms of social distancing, masks, and everything like that. We’re looking at all of our shared spaces in the shelter … we’re looking at every square inch, and reconfiguring and making sure that we’re good to go.”
One of many changes is replacing a huge family style dining table to ensure safe social distancing between groups. There are no on-site volunteers allowed, and no walk-in donations permitted at this time. Clients living offsite at hotels are still receiving daily case management, food, bus tokens, non-food stamp items, etc.
Another program that will look different in the future is the “Adopt-A-Child Back-to-School” program. People can now view online school wish lists on the Haven House website, which lists items like underwear, t-shirts, school supplies, and more. Haven House is also accepting urgent need donations via their Amazon wish list, allowing items to be shipped directly to the center. No-contact drop offs may be scheduled with Haven House as well.
Cook said the community’s support has been great, despite the changes in how donations are accepted, and the new need for items beyond the typical hygiene and cleaning products. “We’ve had a lot of people step up in unique ways,” she said. “A need that we had a lot from March to June was kids needing iPads, or some sort of way to connect to technology for school. That’s something we’ve never encountered before. People have really come through, and helped us out in really unique ways during this time. We have really received a lot of monetary generosity from our community. I can’t even put into words how amazing it’s been. We’ve had so many people reach out and just say, ‘how can I help,’ and we’re so grateful for everyone. We definitely feel loved.”
While the shelter is closed to in-person tours, a film crew will come in to create a virtual tour behind the doors of Haven House. “One of the things we love in our community is that anytime anyone was curious in the past, we would say, ‘great, come in for a tour, and we’ll show you around,’” Cook said. “That’s not possible right now, but we still want that for people. We still want people to see what happens here, and what it looks like.”
Those interested in making a monetary donation can do so here. To shop the Haven House Amazon Wish List, visit here. To schedule a donation through USPS or private carrier, or to schedule a donation drop-off of items from the Urgent Needs list starting July 15, call 517-337-2731 and ask to speak to Chequoya Spearman.
Haven House is located at 121 Whitehills Drive.