Thursday, June 15, 2006

Hope Haven Children's Shelter

Hope Haven Children's Shelter
PO Box 3777
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 39521

1/14 A way to continue helping HH:

Hey went ok.....but unfortunately...after we arranged for every foster child to be adopted....and had toys and clothing stacked up for every one of them...about one third of the foster parents did not come to pick the children's presents up. A couple were out of the area...but speaking with DHS they notified all....some just didn't bother.
I have about $2,500 worth of new gifts sitting in my storage....and all the social service staff can do is call or send another letter out asking them to pick them up if they have not already done so. The two things that upsets me is the kids didn't get their presents....and the wonderful people who bought them and brought them down....well...its just not right and we arent going to do this next is too hard to get help and then for it not to be used is embarassing. The gifts won't go to waste...We celebrate about 30 birthdays a year in the we will just use them as appropriate.
The kids in the shelter were overwhelmed with gifts....and visits from locals bringing things. We also helped out over 50 other families who asked for help with gifts and we passed out over $3,000 in wal mart cards to them as well.
We had a volunteer college group from Western Michigan with us for five days and they passed out $5,000 in Wal Mart cards to kids/families in local FEMA trailer parks. We purchased and distributed over 20 portable heaters, 500 blankets and paid over $2,500 in past due electric bills for families to keep their power on over Christmas....all in all it was pretty good.
Thanks for your support and continuing interest.
Have a great New Year...Terry.
12/1 We have stepped forward to try and provide gifts for every abused and neglected child in care in Hancock County...and several children who are still with their families but the families are on the edge and have nothing....the "extras " are all the other children outside of Hope Haven in foster care and a few are with relatives...who have not got the means to provide gifts. Terry
Many of these families haven't had Christmas since before The Storm, so please take that into consideration when you give this year.

If you choose to buy online, you can ship directly to the addresses given here and most companies are giving free shipping online until at least the first week of December.

I would love to know if you plan on helping, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post - click on the word 'comment'. Thank you!

Hope Haven Children's Shelter
PO Box 3777
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi 39521
All the kids from HH are in Hancock County...

Hope Haven is also hoping to supply gift cards to Foster Families for the foster children. He has about 80 - most are living in FEMA trailers still. $25 gift cards to WalMart (only real store in town). He is also in need of pajamas and footies appropriate for each child.
The following are children being housed at the shelter and most haven't had Christmas or Birthday since The Storm.
boy age 11.....razor scooter or board and any type of radio controlled truck
boy age 6..... radio contolled truck or car, nerf guns
boy age 2....anything that has wheels on!

girl age 9..... make a teddy bear kit, bratz dolls
girl age 6..... make a teddy bear kit, my little pony stuff, bratz, barbies
girl age 4..... any type of dolls with clothes, dress up clothes, princess outfits
boy age 12..... personal cd player, country western cd's
girl age 7..... stained glass type handicraft kit, paint by number set.

In previous years, we have requested toys, dolls, games for Christmas and these items were kept in our famous (to the kids anyway!) "toy locker".
Due to Katrina, and the loss of both of our offices, our office is now located in the toy locker! Additionally, we are allowing the Hancock County Food Pantry to operate out of the other part of the metal building that used to be our recreation center. This means that we have very little storage space in which to place donations. For this reason, this year we are requesting donations of gift cards to Wal-Mart orToys 'r Us that we can use to buy our children the items that they put on their "Santa Lists" and to distribute to other needy families in the community.
Many children lost a particular toy, doll or game that they had treasured and that they would love to replace. The donation of a gift card may allow a hurricane affected child to have the exact item that they have been missing….what an amazing Christmas gift to give!
Our major concern this year is not the children in Hope Haven...we will make sure that they are cared for. We are concerned that many children in foster homes, FEMA trailers and make-do houses will not have a Christmas this year because of parents who are so overwhelmed by the financial demands of simply getting by. The donor response last year was overwhelming and we are hoping that people around the country do not think that now that a year has passed, that all is well here. We still have many children living in poverty.
Last year we collected over $20,000 in Wal-Mart gift cards which we distributed through the local schools and churches. We are hoping to be able to do that again this Christmas season!

Thank you so much for thinking about us. This year is so different....last year we had over 10,000 thousand toys we passed out to the local community...all from outside katrina land...this year we will have about ten children in the shelter...and we hope to help about eighty foster children in the county as well. Number one on our list is wal mart gift cards to hand out to the foster families...most of them are still very stressed and not back into homes yet.
As to the children in the shelter - we will not know for sure exactely which children we will have for Christmas until mid to late november. However, general items such as personal cd players, music cd - especially for eight to 12 year old girls, decent sweaters, gloves, sweats for both boys and girls...would be great. Also nightwear for both boys and girls..robes, footies, nightgowns, pjs in various sizes...are always very useful. Tks Terry

Terry emailed me this note:

Update on Hope Haven Childrens Shelter.
Hope Haven is now fully open and is caring for the abused and neglected children of the area. In addition to our shelter program we have started an outreach program designed to help the many foster children and families in the area who were affected by Katrina. We have purchased school supplies, uniforms and provided monitary assistance to foster families living in FEMA trailers and temp housing as they struggle to rebuild their lives and homes.

The foster families are some of the bravest and best here in the area. They have gone totally unrecognized...because of the nature of their service....which must be kept confidential. Not one foster family who lost their home...called the State DHS and said..."come and take these kids back...we lost our home...we can't take care of them anymore." Every single foster family kept the children they had before the hurricane and many took in more...even though they themselves were without adequate resources. We have set up a special fund to help these families....called the "Helping Hands Fund." We welcome any and all donations to this fund and pledge to spend every cent donated on the welfare of foster children in the local area.

Thank you so much for caring.
Terry Latham
Director Hope Haven.

PS...K99 is hosting a radio fundraiser for raise the money for a new swing set...this was set up by the local branch of the Quota Club...who recently visited our home.

Sent to me on 4/5

Hi Leslie...

things are going but slower than we hoped for. We had to have our shelter leveled and reblocked started to places...due to damage fm hurricane....that took an extra month to get done and it has taken forever to get the kitchen cabinets installed...but that is now done. We have hired a wonderful couple as live in houseparents who will move in in May and after they are certified by DHS we will bring kids back...should be right around our tenth anniversary of opening the shelter
...23 June.

Our local donors are gone but we have had good things happen with a few out of state orgs...MercyCorps has helped, Women Helping Others and just recently Credit Suisse Foundation.... Locally the local annual science fantasy event raised over five thousand dollars for we are pretty happy at the moment. On the down side United Way...which raised over fifty thousand last year for us...all designated funds...has stopped funding any organization for the next two years....that hurt.

But we have cut over one hundred thousand dollars off of our annual budget costs by not having ten shift workers....we will make it somehow...i am confident.
as far as needs...we can now start accepting paper products...toilet paper, towels, napkins we are near opening and have storage.

Hope Haven is located in Diamondhead, MS. The following is an excerpt from the Director - Terry Latham, with whom I spoke yesterday.

Diamondhead is an area of Hancock County not yet represented on my blog, so hearing from him and what is going on in that area is a very good thing.

Update on Shelter: Our home, offices. Recreation building and storage buildings took an average of five feet of water from the storm. Everything inside the all of our buildings were a total loss. We were able to salvage some records and one file cabinet and two chairs...but that was all. All told we estimate that we lost close to$100,000 in furnishings, equipment and supplies and sustained almost $50,000 in damage to the structures. Like so many others...we had no flood insurance and as almost all of our damage was caused by flooding, not wind...we will not receive anything from the Insurance company.

An even greater loss was our loss of our trained staff. Of the 12 full and part time employees of Hope Haven, I am the only one who has a house left to live in. All of the rest lost their homes and all of their belongings and five of them lost their vehicles. Nine of our 12 board members lost their homes and belongings or had their homes severely damaged. Most of our staff have left the local area and six of our Board members were forced to move elsewhere for the immediate future. Even if we could get them back...they have no place to live as over 85% of the homes in this area were destroyed or are uninhabitable.

The financial loss: The final blow is the loss of the many donors that had joined the Hope Haven "family" over the last ten years. We have gone from an average "income' of $35,000 to $38,000 per less than $3,000 per month. Sadly, much of our donor base has been destroyed by Katrina as well. So many of the individual citizens, businesses, corporations, churches and civic organizations that made up the broad base of our support are now in need themselves. We are fortunate to have some savings which will allow us to restore our shelter, but we do not have the funds to reopen as a State Licensed Emergency Shelter.

When I spoke with Terry yesterday, he mentioned that Hope Haven is the only shelter in the state of MS that is willing to take pregnant teens and children in wheel chairs. The children in wheel chairs must be placed in nursing homes if HH is unable to take them. How heart breaking is this?! He is hoping to reopen as a shelter in April or May.

So - the needs are primarily financial

If you think you might have a material donation you'd care to make, please email the shelter at

As noted above, their operating funds have dwindled to about 9% of their original amount.
Please consider helping them.

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