By Avra Sullivan
Homelessness is not just a big-city problem; it exists here in our own Queen Anne’s County. Eight years ago, Krista Pettit recognized this need and founded the nonprofit organization Queen Anne’s County Christian Assistance (QACCA), a network of area churches committed to making a difference. QACCA operates Our Haven Home and Shelter, an emergency food pantry, and the soon-to-open Our Daily Thread, a thrift store. This newest endeavor will provide deeply discounted or free clothing and other items and hopes to provide jobs for clients of Our Haven Home and Shelter. “All of this could not be possible without an amazing board of directors, and especially the countless volunteers who help,” says Krista.
Volunteers are an essential part of Our Haven Home and Shelter and its many activities. Over 200 volunteers assist with running all the programs, including Our Haven Shelter, available to anyone in need from December to April, the coldest parts of the year. Volunteers also set up and organize the 5K/10K/half-marathon Run4Shelter, an annual fundraiser now going into its fourth year. On the third Saturday of each month, volunteers spend the day distributing over 7,000 pounds of food through the food pantry. QACCA also partners with girl and boy scouts, youth groups, and 4H clubs, offering a perfect opportunity for young people to get involved in serving others. For Krista and her family, this service is not just a choice, “it’s a way of life for us.” Her husband and children are actively involved and a big part of the work Krista began nearly a decade ago.
Our Haven Home is a transitional housing opportunity that offers safe and affordable housing along with an intensive case management program. Located in Stevensville, they are able to provide up to two years of living accommodations for a family in need. “We want this to be a stepping stone for people. Rather than giving them hand-outs, we want to enable them to get things done in their own lives.” says Krista. Case managers at Our Haven Home work with individuals on job placement, child care needs, obtaining financial assistance and enrolling in drug and alcohol programs. While some of the clients come and go, Krista says she has seen amazing changes in many lives throughout the years. In fact some of the clients have returned to work and serve others as either employees or volunteers of QACCA.
QACCA relies fully on donations and volunteers. Our Haven Shelter is located in the Kent Island United Methodist Church in Chester; Our Haven Home is located on State Street in Stevensville. Anyone interested in serving at either of these facilities, helping with the emergency food pantry, or working at the new Our Daily Thread thrift store can contact Krista Pettit at 410-739-4363 or visit the website at www.qacca.org. You also can support Our Haven and Home Shelter by purchasing tickets for this year’s Christmas by the Bay raffle. As the recipient of this year’s raffle, all proceeds from the raffle tickets will go directly to Our Haven Home and Shelter.