Courteney Heller tells Jonah Triebwasser and Kathy Kruger about River Haven Shelter, emergency housing and support services for runaway and homeless boys and girls ages 10 through 17 in Dutchess County. The shelter, in one form or another, has existed in Poughkeepsie since 1984, and currently can house12 youth at a time (about 100 a year), two to a room. A vegetable garden not only supplies fresh food for the table but is one of several ways that counselors help these preteens and teens reintegrate with their family—if they have one—and society. They also perform community service and continue to attend school while in the shelter. Each evening Ms. Heller prepares a family meal for the residents, which they consume together as they talk about their days. The shelter is part of Hudson Valley Housing, which has various programs to aid the homeless.
Crystal Snow-Hebel is one of the co-founders of Faith House (Linda Arzu is the other), a proposed maternity home for 18- to 24-year old girls and their newborn children. This would be a refuge for girls who otherwise would be homeless, in abusive relationships, or living in poverty. The idea is to provide for spiritual and emotional needs in a real family environment. Many volunteers are already working on this project, which is still in a fundraising stage. In addition to providing parenting skills, there would also be prenatal care and skills and educational development for when the girl and her child re-enters society.
RadioRotary interviews recovering addict Cara Mia Bacchiochi about her street ministry called Hope on a Mission HOAM, a volunteer effort to help women who are homeless because of addiction to drugs or alcohol. Working in the city of Poughkeepsie, Bacchiochi and volunteer helpers distribute water and such personal care items as baby wipes to homeless women on a weekly basis. As with other parts of the United States, Poughkeepsie is undergoing a wave of addiction spurred by the introduction of powerful opiate pain relievers and the availability of cheap heroin. In the late 1980s, Bacchiochi was herself an addict, but in 1990 she entered recovery programs. With the help of her church, she hope someday to open a storefront that would make it easier to carry out her mission. In the meantime, Hope on a Mission HOAM could use help in the form of donations and volunteers. See its Facebook page for information on how to help.
RadioRotary interviews Zamir Hassan, founder of The Hunger Van, a volunteer effort to bring food to the hungry homeless. In 2000, Hassan chaperoned a school trip to a local food pantry and was astonished by how many were going hungry in his prosperous New Jersey community. He says that in his tradition, you are not supposed to go to sleep if your neighbor is hungry, so he began to work on ways to alleviate the problem. As he traveled from place to place around the United States, helping to set up food pantries, he realized that many of the hungry homeless lack transportation to get to the food pantries, so he created a volunteer program that would bring healthy food to where the homeless lived, beneath bridges or in doorways. Hunger Vans now operate in cities all over the United States. Hassan was in the Hudson Valley to help inaugurate the Hunger Van program in Poughkeepsie.