Dear Friends of A Safe Haven & Fellow Moms,
I am daughter of a wonderful Mother of seven and I am Mother of two wonderful sons with my husband, Brian. From generation to generation, all parents realize that in even the most loving and stable environment, raising children is never easy. We also know that there is no higher priority or more important job we will ever do than taking care of and providing for our children. I think I can speak for all Moms when I say that we cannot even begin to imagine how devastating it must be for a mother to try raising her children when she is homeless.
It was when I was pregnant with our second child nearly 22 years ago that my husband and I began to think about giving back and making a difference. We began to research the issue of poverty and homelessness and became dissatisfied with the disconnected and fragmented approach of both government and philanthropy. We began the journey of building A Safe Haven, knowing that there needed to be one stop shop for anyone in need to rebuild their lives in a way that would lead to self-sufficient living. What fueled our passion, vision, and mission the most was our concern for the real lives that were being lost, and our dream to make this world a better place for not only for our children, but for all children.
Over the years, we have seen thousands of homeless mothers at ASHF who have tragically become homeless with their children, and have endured overwhelming challenges as they desperately tried to get back on their feet. We are grateful that A Safe Haven can help them to start over and invest in themselves and in their children’s futures. At ASHF, we provide all residents, including our mothers and their children, with the support they need to achieve sustainable independence.
Many of the challenges faced by homeless families seem insurmountable. What is particularly striking about the homeless mothers we meet is the prevalence of mental health conditions. Some of the leading causes of homelessness include mental illness and behavioral healthcare issues, often due to histories of depression, drug or alcohol abuse, human trafficking, sexual abuse, and domestic violence. Sadly, over 70% of women in prison are also mothers, and most are incarcerated due to non-violent offenses.
It is safe to say, that almost all the mothers we see at A Safe Haven lack the resources and support they need to overcome their challenges on their own. Unfortunately, the long-term effect on children is devastating. The cost to them, their families, and society is expensive and catastrophic in terms of the long-term consequences, both human and financial.
The complication of living in unsafe or unstable housing conditions with children is exacerbated by a lack of support or resources. Significant barriers to employment exist, including low levels of education, lack of work experience, few vocational skills, substance abuse histories, and lack of childcare. Employment opportunities are limited, and clearly weigh heavily against them.
Gratefully, for over two decades, our teams of partners and supporters have joined us to tirelessly find ways to build a support system that is sustainable and gainful. Thank you for helping us to raise resources, to share powerful and inspiring stories, to spread the word on many national and international stages and platforms, to serve as an expert resource for media, to welcome guests from around the world, and to diligently enhance our programming and expand our capacity to do more.
As we honor Mothers everywhere, be sure to also celebrate that because of you, there are thousands of stories of A Safe Haven Mothers and Alums who have moved on with their lives as engaged Mothers in loving relationships with their children, and as active participants in the important milestones of their children’s lives.
Please join me in wishing all Mothers, a very Happy Mother’s Day!
Neli Vazquez Rowland
President and Co-Founder of
A Safe Haven Foundation