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The difference a year can make

June 7th marked 1 year of women living at Haven Homes of Detroit! It is an exciting and important milestone for not only our organization, but perhaps even more important, for the women who have lived at the house this past year. There have been so many different thoughts rolling through my head about this milestone- from grateful to nostalgic then even to relieved. The grateful and nostalgic are easy to explain: HHD is truly one of the greatest honors of Aaron's and my life. For those who have heard our story you know: HHD began as an answer to a prayer I had almost 10 years ago now asking what I was supposed to do with the burden on my heart for those in human trafficking. For more than 5 years it laid in my heart as, in the words of Langston Hughes, a Dream Deferred. When Aaron saw the same vision I had in 2019, we started to move forward in understanding the need in the community and how we could partner with survivors in a meaningful way. In our fast-paced, immediate gratification craving society today, 10 years is a long time and many days we were simply committed to taking the next step forward without any clear picture of the final product. Doubts about our abilities and competing priorities were real, and the journey to HHD truly is all about the goodness of God.

The relieved emotion is harder and messier to explain. The easiest to explain is that we have a year of milestones behind us. We have 3 women who are living and healing and growing at HHD, and 1 who is successfully living on her own as a "Sister for Life" to HHD. We built our program based on models that have been successful and with input from Alice Jay, a lived-experience leader, but 12 months ago, all the manuals and plans were untested. To see real lives being changed 1 year later is inspiring with a deep sense of relief on the side! Aaron and I are also aware that Haven Homes of Detroit is a business. Finding a Board of Directors, working with community partners, fundraising for our annual budget, and keeping everybody safe (let alone thriving!) is a huge committment. We now understand why so many non-profits fail within the first 5 years. In looking back over the first year operating, it's crazy to see not only that we survived but are growing as an organization while feeling aligned to our core values. We have a a stable and truly incredible, capable staff that are the heart and soul of our organization. Add in a Board of Directors that is diverse in experience and backgrounds, and they keep honest and ensure our decisions always align with our mission. It no longer feels like everything is on our shoulders, and knowing human-ness is a limiting factor to our abilities, that feels like a huge relief.

On June 7, our staff and residents were together for a "Phase-up Party" to celebrate our first resident moving to Phase 3 and another moving to Phase 2. These are special days when we get to formally celebrate the often hard to quantify healing and progress that happens for our residents. Aaron showed me the picture later that evening, and I immediately saw a picture from one year ago of the same dining room table with a single light shining over it. I had taken the picture as I was turning off the lights before bed the first night we had residents in our house. Now, 1 year later, the same exact spot shows residents celebrating milestones with staff surrounding them.

It's hard to imagine a better way to sum up a year of Haven Homes of Detroit

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