5 Questions with: Michelle Zechmann, CEO of Haven House

We spoke with Haven House CEO Michelle Zechmann as the organization celebrates its 45 anniversary. She let us know how they’re celebrating, and most importantly, serving our community.

As told to Catherine Currin | photography courtesy Haven House

Can you explain a little bit about the services Haven House offers?
Haven House Services is the place where youth who need help find it. Haven House currently runs 11 programs that assist approximately 1,200 youth each year who are experiencing homelessness, in crisis, involved with the juvenile justice system and/or in trouble at school or at home. We are often best known in the community for one of two programs. The first is Wrenn House, the only emergency shelter in the Triangle for youth ages 10-17 who are homeless or in-crisis. The second is our Second Round program, which is an after-school intervention program that uses boxing and fitness to help youth build strength and skills needed to overcome challenges.

What does it mean for your organization to celebrate this anniversary?
It means that 45 years later that we are still needed. We are still filling the gap in services for many of our community’s most vulnerable youth. We are seen locally and across the state as experts in working with youth in challenging, often heartbreaking, situations. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to gather our supporters together and celebrate all that we have achieved together and talk about what’s next.

How will Haven House will celebrate this anniversary?
We are celebrating our 45th anniversary with two events in one week. On Thursday, May 16, we are holding a “Cheers to 45 Years” celebration at The StateView Hotel on Centennial Campus. The event will include music, dinner, drinks, a live and silent auction and an award ceremony honoring our first-ever inductees into our new Hall of Champions.

On Sunday, May 19, we are hosting our 4th Annual Battle of the Bags Cornhole Tournament at Trophy Brewing on Maywood Avenue. In addition to 80 teams competing, the event will include a DJ, food truck, kids activity tent and a long toss competition.

How can the community get involved to help the organization grow for another 45 years?
We would love for the community to join us at either or both of our 45th anniversary events. Tickets to “Cheers” are $75 each. Registration for a two-person team for Battle of the Bags is $50. You can also always make a donation viawww.havenhousenc.org.

Beyond events, we would encourage anyone interested in getting involved with Haven House to attend one of our monthly Haven House 101 sessions, like us on Facebook or email volunteer@havenhousenc.org to find out upcoming dates for Haven House 101. There are many opportunities for volunteers to help individually, in groups or to organize in-kind donation drives for needed items.

What’s next for Haven House?
There is a lot on the horizon, including a new home. Currently, we rent our facility on Cabarrus Street, and eventually the site will be developed so we will need to move our main office in the next few years (our Wrenn House shelter will remain on West Morgan Street). Programmatically, we expect to expand our services over the next few years in response to significant changes in the juvenile justice, mental health and child welfare systems.