MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Haven House in Martinsburg hosted its ribbon cutting and open house Tuesday.  Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission Superintendent Pastor Tim Guerino presided over the ribbon cutting along with board members.  In his prayer, he thanked God for members of the community and dedicated the new family shelter to the Lord.

Long known as the 604 Project, the former single family home will function as a six-unit family shelter next door to the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission.   In 18 months, donations from $5 up have been raised toward the $1.6 million goal. They are $170,000.00 shy of that goal right now, but Mission Superintendent Pastor Tim Guerino says he’s hoping to open next month.

“I think we’re going to step out on faith,” he says. “If I can get all the staff hired and trained and the volunteers trained by November 1st, we’re going to open it up November 1st.”

The building is paid for, as is the cost of the remodeling, but Guerino is hopeful to have enough in reserve to cover staffing and expenses over the next two years.

Guerino says a sister shelter in Morgan County, the Hope House, will open November 1st as well, but the Haven House in Martinsburg will fill a need for families in transition.  He says traditional shelters often cannot accommodate families with teenagers.  Unlike open shelter spaces, Haven House allows those family units to be in their own apartments.

“They’ll have their own apartments – six individual apartments. It’s the only transitional housing for families in Morgan, Berkeley, Jefferson Counties,” Guerino says.

Some bedrooms have two to three bunk beds.  Prominent on a bedroom dresser during the tour is a Bible.  The family shelter will run under the same accountability-based structure as the main Rescue Mission.   There will be a case manager on staff and the opportunity to connect to community resources.

The mission offers discipleship classes and aims to reach people for Christ, but Guerino says being converted to Christianity is not a requirement for staying.  He does emphasize that staying clean and taking part in AA and NA meetings and other training and counseling is a necessary part of success and toward staying in the program.

He said while some organizations can give a struggling family a hotel stay for the night, there is often no follow up.  He told the Panhandle News Network that the work at the men’s mission and now the Haven House Family Shelter and Hope House Women’s Shelter in Berkeley Springs, has accountability baked into the process.  “There’s the day-to-day accountability, there’s the day-to-day case management.  There’s the day-to-day walking them through the program, walking them through life.”

Guerino thanked members of the board and Craig Collis of Minghini’s General Contractors, who served as the general contractor for the project.  “This guy turned this place into a miracle place,” Guerino said, adding when they started it was a diamond in the rough, “and I mean rough.”

Following the ribbon cutting, the community was invited to wind their way through the two-story shelter, which features handicapped accessible apartments on the first floor and individual family units, all featuring small bedrooms, closets, a washer and dryer and an efficiency kitchen.  Families will take their meals next door at the mission, so there are no ranges or full-sized refrigerators.  Each kitchen has a sink, microwave, and a dorm-sized refrigerator/freezer.  There is also a  small table and a living area.

Quilts covering each bed in the six apartments were made by folks from two area churches.

The mission leans heavily on community donations to fill its kitchen needs.  Churches and other organizations can volunteer for a kitchen takeover and take charge of one of the three meals served each day at the mission.   Pastor Guerino said the need for those has increased, and the mission is serving more than 8,000 meals a month at the mission off King Street in Martinsburg.

You can learn more about the Martinsburg Union Rescue Mission, its needs, and the Haven and Hope House shelters here.