First Christian Church saw a need for a safe place for middle school youth after school. With the help of adults middle school youth of the church came up with the name, the mission statement, the rules, and served on the board. They also put in sweat equity to get the building ready. Since 1998 staff and volunteers have help to keep the original mission of The Haven going. Mission statement: The Haven Youth Center is to provide students in grades 5 through 8 a safe place to come after school to hang out with friends, to visit, to play games, eat, study, learn new life skills and do community service projects.
Over the years members of FCC have purchased a building to house the program and a van, volunteered and established permanent funds to support this ministry. The Haven has received many grants over the years. The most recent grant is from the Morgan County Substance Abuse Commission. The grant is enabled Haven youth for the first time to experience an overnight prevention retreat at a nearby camp ground.
A handful of middle school youth and as many adults helped to shape The Haven into what it is today. In 1998 the only after school program for middle school youth was the YMCA. Several youth could be found spending time on the steps of the library waiting for parents to get off work. First Christian Church saw the need for a safe place for youth to hang out with friends, study, learn new skills, and have an opportunity for service to the community. With the guidance of Rev. Linda Presley youth chose the name, the logo, came up with the mission statement, picked out equipment, made a commercial and invited friends to attend. Adult volunteers from four local churches provided adult supervision and sat on the Haven Board which was made up of youth and adults.
Today some of those who dreamed, planned and participated in 1998 as 7th & 8th graders, now as 30+ adults say:
“I am proud of being part of the starting of The Haven. It helped me get through middle and high school. It was a comfortable, safe place to be with friends and family.”
“Looking back to 1998 I remember painting the walls of The Haven, washing out the brushes, teaching others how to play bumper pool, making a commercial to promote The Haven, and doing homework in the front room (library) of The Haven.”
“It was an exciting time and was a unique experience for youth. We were involved and consulted on everything. I remember lots of meetings where we made decisions from the naming of The Haven to what flavor would go in the pop machine.”
Tonya Hughey Walden
“Playing pool was the main attraction for me. I saw the Haven as a place that was supervised yet was warm and welcoming. The adults were friends. I made several friends at The Haven which have remained life long friends.”
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