Libertyville shelter for homeless women, children a gosdsend for many
Laura Sabino, executive director of The Lake County Haven, speaks at the shelter in Libertyville.A homeless facility for women and children, the Lake County Haven is celebrating its 20th anniversary. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 21, 2012 10:38AM
When Diane Harvey became homeless in 2002, the Lake County Haven helped her get back on her feet.
The Libertyville-based agency that serves homeless women and children gave Harvey shelter, providing her with the tools to get her life back on track. With the Haven’s help, she was able to get a job and eventually got her own place. She has been employed with the same company in Libertyville for the past 10 years.
“The Haven continues to give me the emotional and spiritual strength I need,” said Harvey, who now works part-time on the support staff for the Haven. “I’m so grateful for the Haven for saving my life.”
The Lake County Haven celebrated its 20th anniversary during a small ceremony at the shelter in Libertyville on Friday. The event was attended by county and local officials, volunteers and board members of the organization, and former clients of the program.
The organization was started in May 1992 by Mike Gretz and Peg Bradley, who were deacons at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest and wanted to provide a safe place for homeless and children women in the county.
“Twenty years ago, two community members came together to try to help homeless women and children,” said Ken Neumann, president of the Haven’s board of directors, during Friday’s anniversary celebration. “They had no idea about how to go about this but they knew they couldn’t sit by and watch people suffer the hardships and indignities of homelessness.”
In 1993, the Haven rented a small house in Libertyville, which became the agency’s first shelter for homeless women and children. After a few years, the Haven purchased a larger two-story home on a residential street in Libertyville, which is the shelter the organization uses today.
Over the last 20 years, the Haven has provided shelter to about 860 homeless women and children in Lake County, according to Laura Sabino, the agency’s executive director. Women in the program have fallen into homelessness for a variety of reasons. Some have lost their jobs, others have been victims of domestic violence, others have had mental health issues caused by childhood trauma such as sexual or physical abuse, and others have struggled with drug or alcohol abuse, Sabino said.
The Haven provides a safe environment for the women while they work to get their lives back on track. In addition to the shelter that has space for 10 people, the Haven also offers transitional rental housing for 16 other people who are no longer in the shelter and are transitioning back in to the community, Sabino said. The Haven uses education, employment and life-skills training to help women move from homelessness to independence.
The Haven has been a godsend for many women who gone through the program.
Katherine Long ended up at the Haven shelter about 10 years ago after falling into homelessness because of drug and alcohol addiction. She was able to get sober and went back to school to get her GED. Last year, she graduated from the College of Lake County with an associate’s degree in drug and alcohol counseling and now works full-time as a case manager for the Haven.
“I thank the Haven all the time for my life,” she said.