WESTFIELD — Westfield Gas & Electric (WG&E) is sponsoring a Room to Recover at Safe Haven in Westfield. Safe Haven is a program of MHA that offers transitional housing support to people served by the Department of Mental Health who are experiencing chronic homelessness, including those in recovery.
Recently, WG&E’s Tom Flaherty, general manager; Robin Krok, Human Resources associate; and Lisa Stowe, Customer Experience, Marketing & Communications manager, toured Safe Haven in person. They talked with program staff and met residents who are working on getting stable as they prepare for a successful transition to living independently in the community.
“MHA’s Kim Lee reached out to me to see if WG&E would sponsor a Room to Recover at Safe Haven,” Krok said. “Once she explained the work they are doing at Safe Haven, we had no hesitation. What an amazing asset to the city of Westfield and surrounding communities. When we were offered a tour, I was ecstatic. Sitting together with Kim and Safe Haven’s Samantha Gulzvig and Colleen Keaveney, you can hear and feel their compassion for the people they’re helping to get back on their feet.
“We were fortunate to meet a resident, Tammy, and see her enthusiasm about preparing to get back into the community in an apartment she’ll share with her son,” Krok went on. “We also met ‘J,’ who is ready to move out of Safe Haven and into his own place in just a couple days. He was excited, and, just as important, the other residents were excited for him. They are seeing someone on a path for success, someone who has the same kinds of goals they’re working for. It was inspiring and heartwarming. I had no idea that Safe Haven existed until Kim Lee reached out to me, so thanks to her for being so proactive. It’s great to support a community resource that helps people live their best life.”
Stowe noted that Safe Haven is a large, old home that’s been renewed. “It’s lovely. The renovation preserved much of the original woodwork, including the parquet floor at the entrance, which is stunning. There’s a big common room where some residents were sitting together, a big communal kitchen, and a dining room where residents eat together, play games, and work on art projects.
“We love that Safe Haven provides enrichment for residents, such as art classes,” she continued. “There was a lot of original art on the walls that makes it feel like home. The front porch provides a space to be outside together. We toured a bedroom that’s being prepared for a gentleman who is about to arrive at Safe Haven, and it was nothing like I’ve seen in any other group home. With so much transience in their lives, it’s wonderful that these folks can land somewhere that’s both soft and solid at the same time. It feels like home, like family.”
Flaherty, in his first week on the job as WG&E’s general manager, prioritized this visit to Safe Haven. “Tom was incredibly happy that WG&E was behind the donation for this room,” Krok said. “He’s leading a Westfield business, and he’s from Westfield himself, so he understands why our commitment to this community resource is so important.”
Samantha Gulzvig, program supervisor at Safe Haven, added that “I’m so grateful that Tom, Robin, and Lisa came to Safe Haven and really spent time in the program, meeting participants and staff and walking through. It’s wonderful to meet local people who are helping us and believe in what we’re doing to give homeless people a fresh start and new things as they begin the next chapter in their life. I’m genuinely excited to continue working with them in the future.”