Vehicles overflowed onto to Country Club Road, guests filing in one by one to celebrate the new Haven House location during a ribbon-cutting celebration Thursday.

“The Conway Chamber Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening of Haven was one of the most exciting times of our 33-year history,” the nonprofit’s executive director Marti Jones, told the Log Cabin Democrat.

Haven House was created in 1986 and serves as a qualified residential treatment program for adolescent females in foster care that have experienced some type of trauma and abuse in the lives.

Over the last 12 years, the organization has houses these girls – Haven House is always full, with a continuous 12 – in a location off Donaghey Avenue, a four-bedroom, two-bath, 3,000 square-foot structure and while the spot has served its purpose, they were growing and needed more space to do continue what they have been doing ... “only better,” Jones previously told the LCD.

Guests packed the two-story house for the ceremony.

“The turnout was beyond what I ever dreamed,” Jones said. “Honestly, I do not know why I was so surprised because Conway is that city. They have been with us since the beginning and are a big reason our program continues to be this strong after all of these years.” 

During, the executive director was able to thank many that had a hand in this project and those who have shown their support throughout the last 33 years.

“Thursday might have been a haze to me if Judge David Clark had not found me and told me to, ‘stop, breathe, and take in the magnitude of the day, look at all of these supporters, friends and family. They might not know everything that we know about these kids and what they have been through but they are here and they love Haven,’” Jones said. “I was thankful for [that] gift from him and will remember [that] conversation always. It was a perfect day.”

She said there’s no way she could thank everyone who had a hand in the pot, but she does know that it wouldn’t have happened without the support from Counseling Associates, their supervising agency, and Susan Salter, the leader of the fundraising committee.

“Haven will be forever grateful to so many people,” Jones said.

The ladies that currently live at Haven, she said, haven’t had the chance to see the house all decked out, full of new furniture and fixed up, “pretty basic,” the lat time they were there.

Jones said even then, the group was excited, but overwhelmed, their favorite part coming down to the bedrooms.

At the Donaghey location, it’s four teenagers to a bedroom with shared bathroom counter space, girls cramming in to get ready. Not anymore.

“They will each have their own private bedroom which is a first for Haven and most of them in their lifetime,” she said. “This will be a huge change and will give them each a space for them and their things only. Having so many more bathrooms was a pretty close second. No more waiting in lines.”

The other added benefit to the expanded space is the “homey” feeling the furniture, rugs and art gives off, Jones said.

“I can’t wait for them to see it now,” she said. “We will be moving them over within the next few weeks.”

The new location, which broke ground in June 2018, cost $2.5 million including the land, house and the furnishings. At this point, Jones said they’ve raised $2.2 million.

“I know that it will be harder to raise this last part because people have seen the house now, we will be moving in and everyone will assume that we raised it all,” she said. “Many donations were ‘pledged’ donations so it will be a few more years before all of that will come in so we did have to get a loan.”

Jones said they hope the last $300,000 that has not been given or pledged will come through soon.

“We know it will cost more to run this larger home and this first year will be an educated guess,” she said. “Not having a large house payment would really help during this first year.”

The new 10,000 square-foot home, located at 3240 Stermer Road, features:

Twelve private bedrooms, with space for their own things because “they might not come with a lot but what they have is important to them.” Quiet areas so “they can be alone when they need to and a place that they feel safe and secure.” A kitchen “large enough to learn to cook within while learning independent living skills. A common area that “has a little bit for everybody at the same time,” including a T.V., small exercise room and creative space. A study room for computers and class work.

For those interested in learning more about Haven House or making an online donation, visit www.havenconway.org. To make a donation toward the house, get ahold of Marti Jones at mjones@caiinc.org or 501-327-1701.