The Haven - HISTORY


In 1998 a small group of committed people began meeting on a weekly basis to explore a vision for creating a sober housing facility for homeless men and women in recovery from addiction. We obtained a corporate charter in 1999 and began moving the project forward in 2003.

That same year, through the generosity of friends and family members, we were able to acquire two acres of land for this vision; and, we were granted 501(c)3 tax-exempt status by the IRS and the State of Virginia.   In April 2008, in partnership with Lynchburg Covenant Fellowship, Inc., we were awarded a Predevelopment Grant by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development to help us in doing a feasibility study on the size, scope, type, location, etc. of the housing facility for our program.

Based on the results of the feasibility study and in response to the existence of a gap in services in the region, we expanded our vision to include creating a residential addiction recovery program in 2009.  We undertook this 'mission' in cooperation with the local Coalition for Treatment and Recovery. This expanded vision addressed the needs of men and women who were either without insurance coverage or lacked adequate financial resources with which to obtain treatment for their addictions.

Our research for a successful existing residential recovery program led us to a "peer-based recovery community model" run by The Healing Place (in Kentucky).  After visiting their programs in Richmond, VA and Raleigh, NC, and seeing their facilities and their results, we realized this program model would be ideal for meeting the needs of people in Central and Southwestern Virginia.

After meeting with program staff in Richmond, VA, and Raleigh, NC, The Haven Board began working with Dennis Parnell, LCSW - the successful founder and Executive Director of the Healing Place of Wake County, NC, who was retained to give strategic and programmatic guidance.  As a result of his guidance and the due diligence of the Board of Directors, The Haven hired a Project Director, Niles Comer, CPRS to oversee the "boots on the ground" work for the development of a men's and women's peer-based recovery community facility.

Niles was hired in a large part because of his background in social enterprise, recovery center management, and his interest in utilizing alternative and innovative social impact business practices and investment strategies to assure success and the ultimate sustainability of The Haven’s vision and mission.

Dennis Parnell, LCSW as the Strategic and Program Consultant, brought his wealth of direct experience in designing, creating and operating successful peer-driven, abstinence-based homeless programs for both men and women in Raleigh NC for over 17 years.  During his tenure as CEO, he was also involved in the creation of The Richmond Healing Place, the failed effort to create The Healing Place in Hampton Roads as well as The Healing Place of Wilmington (that is in the mid planning stages at the present time). As a direct result of these successes and failures, Dennis Parnell has become skilled at creating a culture of recovery and in adapting and adjusting the methods to increase success in starting, operating and sustaining these types of needed facilities.

The Haven and its Board of Directors have been dedicated in efforts that stretch over a decade to create a peer-based residential recovery model center serving Central and Southwestern Virginia.  The Project  Director, Niles Comer, CPRS, has been diligently working from day one to assess the best and most efficient manner to bring both a men’s and women’s facility from just a dream into reality.  In that regard, the Board voted to adopt an initial strategic plan outlining the steps and processes that will best ensure the project’s ultimate success.  By utilizing the past lessons and experiences of all the similar (but not exact) successful previous peer projects in Raleigh, NC, Louisville, KY, and Richmond, VA, a picture has developed that informs the process at hand.

The Haven Board then retained the services of Kennebec Recovery Concepts, LLC, in particular, the services of Tom Niemann, MBA, who has decades of experience in financial and real estate development.  Tom helped transform parts of downtown Durham, NC through targeted and creative investments creating multi-use, multi-functional buildings providing housing, restaurants, and businesses renewed access to long-stagnant real estate.

Along with the Board of Directors, the team of Niles Comer, CPRS, Project Director, Dennis Parnell, LCSW, and Tom Niemann, MBA, The Haven has set a strategic course to fulfill the mission and the dire needs for affordable abstinence-based addiction recovery program serving the Central and Southwestern regions of Virginia.