Our History

Our Story

Good Samaritan Haven has provided food, shelter, and welcome to persons in need since 1986. Our mission has been sustained by an abundance of volunteers, committed staff, and the generosity of the community. We were established by area clergy and continue to be well supported by many area churches and persons of faith. It is important to remember and celebrate Good Samaritan Haven’s rootedness in traditional spiritual and ethical values of hospitality to people in need.

At the heart of Good Samaritan’s tradition is seeing the dignity and value in each person. By welcoming each person open-heartedly, we seek to overcome barriers of race, class, and privilege and build a caring and supportive community together.

Good Samaritan Haven’s first shelter at 105 North Seminary Street opened in April, 1987. Since then, thousands of guest have found safe shelter and assistance there. The building has been updated several times over the years, most recently with a COVID-19 safety improvement project in 2020 and 2021.

As a result of a tight housing market, unmet healthcare needs of low-income community members, the prevalence of substance abuse, and other social impacts, homelessness has increased in central Vermont.

Good Samaritan Haven has operated emergency overflow shelters at several area churches in recent years to meet the growing need. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when unsheltered people reached critical levels–with more than 300 individuals without shelter daily–we focused our efforts on temporarily placing people in area motels.

In August, 2020, Good Samaritan Haven expanded its emergency housing options by purchasing the former Twin City Motel in Berlin. Our projected opening is early 2022. We also have plans to open emergency housing facilities in Barre Town and Montpelier. More to come on all of this exciting progress!

Leadership

Melissa Battah was selected as Board Chair in 2020. 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 non-governmental organization experience in economic justice, housing, cultural education, and gender/ethnic/racial equity. Melissa lives in Barre Town with her husband and two children.

Rick DeAngelis came on board in 2020 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 homeless services provider. Rick became Central Vermont Community Land Trust’s (now Downstreet Housing and Community Development) first Executive Director. After a 26-year career with the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, he returned to working directly with people experiencing homelessness.

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