United Way’s annual Day of Caring celebrates volunteerism. Bringing together teams from local businesses, municipalities, churches and civic groups on the third Friday in August, the day provides an inside look at the great work nonprofits accomplish.
In 2011, a group of individuals from the Northwest Indiana chapter of the Indiana Mortgage Bankers Association (IMBA), Greater Northwest Indiana Association of REALTORS® (GNIAR) and the Home Builders Association of Northwest Indiana (HBANWI) spent the day working at Haven House.
A 24-hour emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and their dependents, Haven House is located in Hammond and provides services for much of Northwest Indiana. A three-story, six-bedroom house with accommodations for 21, Haven House provides safe housing, the essentials for everyday living and support services.
“We have a very cozy building for the emergency shelter,” Executive Director Lisa Wein said. “When you rely on grants plus state and federal funds, you have to pinch every penny. Our priorities are meeting the family needs and keeping the building in good repair.”
As a result, the outdoor play yard for the children of Haven House clients had not been significantly updated since the shelter opened in 1983.
“There were a few of us who just couldn’t stop talking about the possibilities for improvement,” Nichole DeMario, GNIAR Director of Communications, said. “But, it was really Palmer Meyers (IMBA Northwest Indiana Chapter Director and a member of GNIAR and HBANWI) who encouraged us that we could make this happen. Once we came up with a plan of action there was no stopping us from seeing this project through.”
With progress being made on the plan for a new Haven House Play Yard, IMBA Northwest Indiana Chapter President Donna Bartley and HBANWI Remodelers Council Chairman Donnie Stash joined the group and things started taking shape. Over the next year, more individuals got on board with the project, and a fundraiser was held in the fall raising nearly $700.
“This is the first time these three organizations have partnered together, and from the time we tore down the old structure to bringing in a donated swing set and completing the amazing new playhouse with building supplies and toys donated by our supporters, it has been a heartwarming experience,” Bartley explained.
“Now, the children who stay at Haven House have a safe, age appropriate and fun place to play outdoors that gives them the opportunity to leave all their worries and stress behind and just be children for the moment,” DeMario added.
“In the beginning, I honestly couldn’t visualize what they were planning to do,” Wein said. “Now, I can see that this project is really an example of what’s coming down the road for us. As we celebrate our 30th anniversary at Haven House, we’re in the process of going through change. For starters, we are looking forward to the opening of our new transitional house, which will give our residents another step in rebuilding their lives.”
Sponsors of the Play Yard Project include: The Big Scoop, Bob Johnson of Liberty Floor & Window Coverings, Fifth Third Bank, Frito-Lay, Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana ReStore, Harley Davidson Valparaiso, Lake Mortgage Company, Inc., Meridian Title Corporation, Nancy Frigo Team of McColly Real Estate Crown Point, Nations Title Agency, Notion Group, Palmer & Barbara Myers, PepsiCo, Precision Homes, Strack & Van Til, Stash Construction, Taylor Wisowaty of State Farm Insurance, Todd & Marla Olthof of Olthof Homes, Von Tobel Lumber & Hardware, Walt’s Food Centers and Wheels Unlimited.
Congratulations to all on a job well done!