Building a Meaningful Career by Supporting Homeless Youth

“Our role is to advocate for young people, many of whom are in dangerous, life-threatening situations,” Gini explained “They’re often not in a good place and open to influence from people who would take advantage of them. The Haven Project can have a long-term impact; we are helping to prevent chronically-homeless adults. This is important work.” Read more about Gini’s story here.

Winning Home donations in 2019 top $360,000

Winning Home is focused on children and their families predominantly on the North Shore of Massachusetts, and successfully closed the year by granting funds to 18 local programs, one of which was a $7,500 grant to the Haven Project to help address the unmet needs of unaccompanied homeless young adults in Lynn and surrounding communities. Read more of the Daily Times Chronicle article here.

Lynn: Protecting the Community

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Land of A Thousand Hills hosts fun night

May 8, 2017 (published by the Lynn Item)

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Jaileen Malave, front, James E. Austin, left, Sokhan Prak, and Esther Summersett enjoy the open mic event.

By DAVID WILSON

LYNN — It’s only about 10 minutes into the Finals Week Breather + Open Mic at Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee Company, and Emily Urbina is hopeful for a good crowd.

The event, hosted by the The Haven Project, was open from 5:30-8 p.m. Monday for students and young adults. “Take a break; vibe out with us; enjoy great talent,” said a small flyer for the event.

Urbina, program director for The Haven Project, said the talent could include poetry, hip-hop performances, and more. Her hope for the event was that it engages the community in a greater way, she said.  Read full article…

 

A CANDID LOOK AT LIFE ON THE STREETS

March 20, 2017 (published in the Lynn Item)

PHOTO BY ALENA KUZUB
Lynn Shelter Association’s “Off the Grid” photography project is exhibited at the Massachusetts State House.

By GAYLA CAWLEY

BOSTON — The Lynn Shelter Association is using photography to give a close-up view of the struggles of homelessness.

The Lynn Shelter Association (LSA) , along with the Lynn delegation, and partner agencies, Homes for Families and The Haven Project, hosted a presentation of LSA’s “Off the Grid” photography project on Monday at the State House.

The photography exhibit displaying pictures of homelessness in Lynn will be on display in the State House this week.  Read full article

 

Gilmore Girls land in Lynn

September 30, 2016  (published in the Lynn Item)

Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. on Munroe Street in Lynn/Facebook

By Bridget Turcotte

LYNN — If you’re out on the road, feeling lonely and so cold, you can stop by Land of a Thousand Hills.

On Wednesday, the Munroe Street coffee shop will be transformed into Luke’s Diner, where many watched the back-and-forth antics of the beloved over-caffeinated, mother-daughter duo of “Gilmore Girls.”

Land of a Thousand Hills is partnering with Netflix to promote the upcoming Nov. 25 release of a four-part return to the series.   Read full article

Raw, Thousand Hills Helps Young Artists Flourish

August 18, 2016 (published by the Lynn Item)

LYNN — It may not have the cache of a Newbury Street art gallery, but the Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. has something just as flashy, a place for teen artists to show their work.

Raw Art Works, the nonprofit whose mission is to put paint brushes into kids’ hands, and the Munroe Street coffee shop have teamed up to present Art Motivates People, the work of eight teens created during a free, six-week summer program.  Read full article…

 

Something Positive Brewing with LPD

PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Jay and Bethany Pike talk with Patrolman Ryan Dulong, of the Lynn Police Department, meets with people at the Land of a Thousand Hills cafe on Munroe Street in on Saturday.

August 1, 2016 (Published in the Lynn Item)

By MICHELE DURGIN

LYNN — Eva Yeno, a West African native and Lynn resident, was curious about the “Coffee With A Cop” event and stopped by the Land of A Thousand Hills cafe to check it out.

“Talks like this help people trust each other more and that’s needed,” said the Lynn Classical senior. “I am going to encourage people at school to come to next month’s meeting and I hope everyone who attends spreads the word that the police are here to help us.”

Five years ago, police officers in Hawthorne, Calif., hosted the first “Coffee With A Cop” gathering to improve relations between law enforcement and the community.

Today, there are programs in all states. The Lynn Police Department held its third discussion at the coffee shop on Munroe Street.  Read full article…

Homeless Youth at Witt’s End

BY MICHELE DURGIN

Featured in Lynn’s Item

Ian Witt walks 15 miles a week, turning local streets into trails.

But a special cause inspired him to hike 2,189 miles longer.

Next week, starting in West Virginia, he plans a trek to Maine, and then fly back and hike to Georgia. He will use the Appalachian Trail Guide as his map and hopes he can accomplish the adventure within six months.

Witt has dedicated the hike to raise money for the Haven Project. The Lynn nonprofit helps teens find homes.

Executive Director Gini Mazman is grateful for Witt’s help.

“Our goals here are simple,” she said. “We want to get these kids into safe homes and help make them responsible citizens. People like Ian help us make these goals possible. I can’t thank him enough.”

To make the journey, Witt quit his job at Slade Gorton, a Boston-based seafood products distributor and manufacturer, where he has worked since 2007 as a credit manager.

Witt plans to carry a 40-pound backpack filled with necessities, including a fold-up hammock, dehydrated food such as pasta, oatmeal and powdered milk, small bowls, a smaller fold-away gas heater, a six-inch metal shovel and clothes. He will also bring his cell phone and a battery charger. Witt expects to leave the trail occasionally to buy food and charge his devices.

Witt will depend on a state-of-the-art filter system attached to a bottle in his backpack. The device looks like a large flexible straw.

“I can put dirty water through that system and instantly drink clean water through the straw,” he said.

Witt plans to use baby wipes as his daily clean up routine. He’ll bring a bar of soap along, in case he’s lucky enough to find a clean creek.

As the departure day draws near, Witt said he is sad about leaving loved ones behind. He said that his mom, Chris Witt, who lives inSwampscott, was shocked when he first told her about his adventure. But she has come to terms with it and is happy for him, Witt said.

“She’s a nervous wreck, but supportive,” he said. “She knows me and my wanderlust well.”

“I understand that they couldn’t hold my job open for me, but they also told me to stop in as soon as I get back,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”

He hopes to be back home to celebrate his girlfriend’s birthday in November.

Trisha Gomez, his girlfriend of seven years, said she hopes they will talk regularly while he is on the voyage. She acknowledged that she is ambivalent as Witt prepares to leave.

“I am worried,” she said. “I know he’s smart, but so much can happen on a 2,200-mile hike.”

Haven of Hope

LYNN’S OWN HAVEN OF HOPE FOR HOMELESS YOUTH

Article featuring the Haven Project from The Daily Item

ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Trisha Cole, left, a student, and Amy Velardi, her tutor, work on lessons at the Haven Project on Munroe Street in Lynn.

Located at the top of a steep set of stairs on Munroe Street, the Haven Project is a tough place to find unless you’re a homeless kid who needs to get out of the cold or talk to someone who has answers.

Haven Project has been around since 2011 and Director Gini Mazman said the organization helps 150 kids a year. These teenagers and young adults look like most people between the age of 17 and 24, but their stories are laced with pain and a legacy of few, if any, opportunities.

Mazman said some of the young people assisted by Haven endured abusive situations in their family homes until they escaped or were kicked out. Others are victims of a condition described by state youth workers as “aging out.” These teens are too old to remain in foster care but too ill-equipped for life to live on their own.

Lack of life skills and stability are the common denominators in the lives of youth assisted by the Haven Project. These are people, said Mazman and Haven drop-in center director Emily Urbina, who did not simply fail to learn common sense life lessons — they never were taught basic skills by someone who exercised a strong and loving presence in their lives.

Urbina said skills even their peers take for granted — knowing how to call in sick to a job, showing up on time for school, making an appointment — are absent from the lives of many homeless teens. Because their life-skill tool box is empty, homeless teenagers can’t stay in school and they can’t hold a job for any length of time. Because they can’t get an education or develop a career, they can’t find and maintain a stable living situation, and so the cycle repeats itself.

Haven Project tries to break the cycle, first and foremost, by showing homeless teens that someone cares about their predicament and understands what they are going through. The converted warehouse space Haven Project uses is a carpeted, comfortable place where teens can spend some time talking to people like Mazman and Urbina.

There is one rule in force at Haven — teens can always return to 57 Munroe St. and ask for help, even if they turn their backs on the employment and education opportunities Haven gives them a chance to try out. Urbina said this accepting and tolerant policy teaches homeless teens an important life lesson — they ultimately must be accountable to themselves if they want to break the cycle of homelessness.