Read original article at WomensInc.net here.
Marti Jones, executive director of Haven, is a lifelong resident of Conway whose roots are firmly planted in the community.
“Conway is a big part of who I am, and I am very proud of that. I love our school system, our growth, and mostly the people and their kind and giving nature,” Marti said.
Daughter of Wayne Longing and Martha Longing, she is a graduate of both Conway High School and the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health. Brothers Salty and Chad Longing are both teachers and coaches for the Conway Public School system.
“I am the black sheep of the family that didn’t go into education and usually the little sister that nobody knows they have,” joked Marti.
Despite the fact that Marti did not pursue a career in education, she makes a huge impact in the lives of so many young girls at Haven. Her journey to her position as executive director began close to 20 years ago when she applied for a part-time house parent position at Haven.
“In that moment I fell in love with everything that Haven stood for and the girls that called it home,” Marti said.
After she earned her degree, Marti left Haven, taking a full-time position with Counseling Associates, Inc., Haven’s parent company. She continued to work there until 2008, when she resigned to care for her two young daughters.
“When I left, I told my supervisor, Lee Koone, if the Haven director or assistant director positions became available, she better give me a call. When my youngest daughter started kindergarten I had been out of the workforce for five years and didn’t know what my plan were going to be, and then my phone rang. Lee asked me to interview for the director position at Haven. I still can’t believe the perfect timing, and I also can’t believe three years have already passed since I enthusiastically accepted the position,” Marti said.
Haven is a residential group home for adolescent females that enter foster care for abuse and/or neglect at no fault of their own. Haven is a non-profit, United Way funded organization under the supervision of Counseling Associates, Inc. Haven traces its beginning back to 1985 when the members of Junior Auxiliary recognized a need for a local shelter. Because of Junior Auxiliary and Counseling Associates, Inc., Haven opened its doors later that year.
“In the past 30 years, close to 3,000 children have called Haven their home,” Marti said.
Marti attributes much of her success to the support of her husband, Chris, and her two beautiful and kind-hearted daughters, Tate and Wren.
“To say that Haven is a full-time job is an understatement. It was a huge adjustment for my family, not only me going back to work, but also going back to work at a place that took so much of my time and energy away from them. A lot of work days end for people at 5:00, but Haven is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I am extremely lucky to be married to a ‘super dad’. Chris goes into work early so that he can pick the girls up from school and get them to their many after-school activities. I honestly could not do what I do without him. My entire family is very proud of the work that I do, and my daughters are being raised with empathy, a kind heart and knowing the importance of volunteering and helping the less fortunate. I’m very lucky that my job has impacted them in such a positive way,” Marti said.
Alison Wish, current president of the Haven board of directors, echoed Marti’s enthusiasm for Haven’s success.
“Marti stepped into the Haven Director role and hit the ground running. Her passion and love for the girls of Haven shows in everything she does. She came to a board meeting last year with a dream of building a new home for Haven. Not long after the announcement, she received a donation of land, and now we’re beginning our capital campaign. No dream is too big for Marti when it comes to improving the lives of the girls who call Haven home,” Alison said.
The capital campaign to build a new home for the residents of Haven kicks off January 1, 2017. Haven, along with Walt Eilers and Fred Hueston, conducted a feasibility study within the community. The results were very positive, and both the Haven and Counseling Associates, Inc. boards voted to continue working with Walt and Fred to move forward with the capital campaign.
“Haven is excited and honored that Susan Salter will be chair for our upcoming campaign. Susan was one of the Junior Auxiliary members that founded Haven over 30 years ago. Her passion for Haven, love for this community and drive to help others made her the perfect choice. We are thrilled she is up for the challenge,” Marti said.
The new 9,000-square-foot home, located at Country Club Road and Tyler Street, will have 12 bedrooms, including rooms for teenagers in foster care who have turned 18 and are working or attending college.
“I think one of the things I am most excited about in the new home is our ability to house four girls that are aging out of foster care. These will be rooms for girls that are 18, 19, and 20 years old that are attending college or have a full-time job. They will have more freedom than the younger children but will still have us there for support,” Marti said.
The new facility will be built to support the active lifestyle of approximately 100 adolescent girls each year. It will contain adequate space for more effectively and efficiently feeding, housing and educating the residents. In addition, the new home will include dedicated areas for study, exercise, confidential counseling sessions and family visits.
“One of the most important things for the community to know is that Haven must still keep the current facility up and running during this campaign. We need our Christmas Coffee, Arkansas Gives Day and Pony Up for Haven fundraisers to succeed. These fundraisers will not go towards the new home. We desperately need the community to back these events, even if they also give to the new home,” Marti said.
Marti sums up the importance of this wonderful opportunity to provide much-needed growth for the residents at Haven.
“Haven strongly believes that Every Child Deserves a Home, and I know that this amazing community that has supported us for so many years will help make sure the girls get the home they deserve. This is our community, and these are our children.”