Executive director Caroline Ivey said the group wants to address the emotional needs of residents as well as their physical ones.
“When people come in, we try to pray with them and help them understand that we do not believe anybody can be whole and reach their full potential without Jesus Christ and God’s guidance,” she said.
While residents are offered spiritual counseling and transportation to local church services, they might also find God through art and nature.
Last Thursday, The Haven of Hope hosted its first art therapy class, which included painting and a short devotion.
Earlier that day, several members of the Walker County Arts Alliance stopped by to present Ivey with a piece by English artist Simon Bull titled “Make It Happen VI.”
Executive coordinator Beth Sargent said the acrylic painting was among a collection of artwork donated to WCAA recently by an anonymous donor.
“We thought it would be uplifting to walk into a new situation and see a piece of art, and the heart just seemed to fit perfectly here,” Sargent said.
Local resident Ray Lynn is helping with another ministry of The Haven of Hope — a community garden.
Ivey said she approached Lynn after learning that he had lost his garden to a new construction project at his housing complex, which is behind the homeless shelter.
Ivey secured the donations of seed and volunteer labor to till the ground, and Lynn has handled the rest.
The goal is to grow enough produce to feed residents of The Haven of Hope as well as Lynn and his neighbors.
“I enjoy working in it, and it is a privilege to know that I can do that for other people,” Lynn said.
Lynn has gotten some help from University of Alabama students who are staying at The Haven of Hope while completing a summer internship for the school’s New College program.
The six girls are currently working on a variety of projects, including raised bed vegetable gardens for Memorial Park and West Jasper elementary schools and artwork for the community garden on Airport Road.
Katie Jernigan has been developing a food plan for The Haven of Hope that will encourage residents to adopt healthy eating habits.
She said she was surprised recently when one of them asked her to describe how a blueberry tasted.
“I knew that some people didn’t like blueberries, but it never occurred to me that someone might not have ever had one. So I really want to show them how to get whole, unprocessed foods for their families and do it on a budget,” Jernigan said.
Ivey said the college students are making a big impact during their short stay in Walker County.
“They’re just a bright spot, and it’s been neat to watch the interaction between them and the residents because there are so many things to learn from each other,” Ivey said.