The History of Good Samaritan Haven
In 1983, a planning meeting for the first homeless shelter in Central Vermont was held, with involvement from a number of local community organizations and area clergy.
Volunteers have always played a critical role in the successful operation of Good Samaritan Haven.
A board of directors was formed, and the search for a location began. Non-profit and tax-exempt status was acquired for the new organization. The effort to provide shelter evolved into a special ministry of local churches working with area businesses and state agencies.
Through generous donations, property was acquired on North Seminary Street in Barre in the spring of 1985. After challenges with zoning and a successful court ruling, the Good Samaritan Haven opened its doors and served one guest the night of June 23, 1986. A formal dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in April 1987.
Over the years, the facility has been completely updated, including a major renovation finished in 2009. Through a capital campaign including state, federal, and private funding, over $500,000 was raised to expand the building, make it energy efficient and accessible for guests with disabilities. Using local contractors, the building was given a new roof, heating and ventilation system, sprinklers, and solar panels mounted on the building. During this time, the organization also hired two full-time Case Coordinators to support guests and help them move more quickly into stable housing.
Homelessness has increased in Central Vermont as a result of the tight housing market, the unmet healthcare needs of the poor, the prevalence of substance abuse and other social impacts. During the cold weather months, Good Samaritan Haven operates four emergency shelters in the Barre-Montpelier area with a total of 76 shelter beds. Our case management staff works throughout the year to help our guests obtain their own housing.
In 2020, Good Sam selected Melissa Battah as its new Board Chair. Melissa is the Deputy Director of Vermont Interfaith Action — a faith-based, grassroots community organizing group. She understands the tragedy of homelessness and is deeply committed to the change needed to end it. Melissa began organizing in the Barre-Montpelier area in 2010. She has decades of NGO experience focusing on Economic Justice, Housing, Cultural Education and Gender/Ethnic/Racial Equity. Melissa lives in Barre Town with her husband and two children.
Also coming aboard in 2020 was Rick DeAngelis as Executive Director. Rick is a long-time affordable housing organizer and manager. He began his housing career in the late 1980s with the Pine Street Inn, Boston’s long-time and well-known shelter provider. Rick was Central Vermont Community Land Trust’s (now Downstreet Housing and Community) first Executive Director. Rick returned to working directly with the homeless after a 26 year career with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board.