In 2008, Carol Naragon had a vision for unwed homeless women. Having worked in the past in this capacity she felt the need to establish a ministry to make a difference in these women’s lives. She and Joni Emmert discussed the growing needs of women and homelessness. Single mothers and women are the fastest growing group of people who are homeless in the United States. The word “homeless” might make you think of women out on the streets, but it also refers to women who may be only one paycheck away from homelessness.
Minimum wage in Indiana will only cover about 50 percent of what is needed for a two-bedroom apartment at fair market value. If a woman is lucky enough to find a one-bedroom apartment, it would take up her entire paycheck and leave no funds for child care, medical, food and other basic life necessities.
Providing a Home
Opening in 2009 as a nonprofit 501(c)(3), Haven Women’s Ministry operates with an all-volunteer staff. They assist women who have nowhere to turn. Greenwood Wesleyan Church decided in 2013 to team up with Haven Women’s Ministry offering the use of their unused parsonage as living space for these women for as long as two years. Haven has helped with the start to a better life for these women. It has given them a glimmer of hope, where there might not have been before. What sets Haven apart from other ministries is the requirement that all their women be employed.
Joni shared her experiences with Haven Women’s Ministry and how it has all come together. Joni has a strong belief that God commands us to care for women in need. When her family and friends found out that she was volunteering, they asked her, “How can I help?” Joni is so grateful for the people who have provided a helping hand to the ministry. Some include Jim Hughes, pastor of Greenwood Wesleyan Church; Trent McWilliams and the employees of Greenwood Home Bank; and Chip Payton, owner of Big Dog Flooring. Each has been able to support Haven through donations and their valuable time.
Hope for Growth
Volunteering for Haven was an easy decision for Joni. She was raised and surrounded by many strong and compassionate women in her life who served as examples from as far back as she can remember. Their goal over the next five years is that Haven will continue to raise awareness and funds for increased housing units and an increase in their volunteer base. Joni states, “It is wonderful, heartbreaking, but most of all, rewarding. We support many financially, not just those living under our roof. Haven helps to restore lives, renew faith and provide hope in every area of their lives.”
Haven Women’s Ministry gives support in the areas of guidance, counseling, financial training, life coaching, mentoring and much more. If you have an interest in volunteering visit the website at Havenwomensministry.org
Finally, Joni wants everyone to know as a volunteer, she continues to see trends of increased young, single, homeless women who need a “hand up, not a handout.” If you know of women that are in need, please let them know about this group and the support they could receive. Haven Women’s Ministry is a beacon of light for women that may have lost their way, and now there is hope for them right around the corner.
Writer / Keith Fechtman
Photographer / James Eichman