MATTOON -- The Haven has moved its community kitchen and homeless shelter into the nonprofit organization's newly constructed building.
Executive Director Michael Stopka said The Haven served its first dinner at the new building, 1812 Western Ave., on Friday and hosted its first overnight guests there that evening.
"It's day and night compared to the old building," Stopka said. The Haven, formerly known as Mattoon Area PADS, had previously been located in a former doughnut shop building at 2017 Broadway Ave. since the shelter started there in 2003.
One small room at the old building had housed the dining room, check-in desk, staff office, and laundry machines. There are separate rooms or spaces for all of these functions at the new location. Stopka said the new dining room has enough seating that none of those eating there has to stand, unlike the old building.
The Haven's community kitchen provides free meals for anyone in need, not just guests of the shelter. The community kitchen serves lunch at 11 a.m. Monday-Saturday and noon Sunday, and dinner at 7 p.m. everyday.
Volunteers Trisha Garner, from Hilltop Skilled Nursing, and Theresa Manus prepared lunch on Monday in The Haven's new kitchen. They placed plates of entrees, sandwiches and side dishes on the countertop of a serving window between the kitchen and the dining room.
"The new kitchen is a lot easier to work in because its a lot bigger," Garner said. Both she and Manus said they appreciate the stove and other new appliances there.
Suzi Coffman, vice president of The Haven board, said she helped serve dinner for approximately 20 guests Sunday evening and has been volunteering in other ways, including mopping the corridor that leads to the sleeping quarters for overnight guests.
At the old building, male and female sleeping quarters were separated by curtains. Coffman said female guests at the new location have been excited to have an entirely separate room with a door for their sleeping quarters.
The new location also offers The Haven's first ever separate bedrooms for families. Coffman said both the two bedroom and three bedroom units for families will have cribs.
Stopka said The Haven's new location began holding day training classes on Monday. He said the staff and volunteers are still unpacking and settling into the building. He said all of the construction work there is complete, other than a strip of the concrete driveway. Stopka said landscaping work around the foundation will be done in the spring.
The Haven constructed the new building on land donated by the Adolph and Victoria Kull family. The nonprofit organization conducted a capital campaign to raise money for constructing and equipping the new building. Contractors provided donated or discounted services for the construction project.
"So many people made this possible. I am just so overwhelmed by the generosity of the community that made this happen," Coffman said.