Havre's Helping Haven gets new look with new manager


September 12, 2019

A new manager of a thrift store has rolled out some changes in the store since she took over.

Jill Miller started as store manager of Havre's Helping Haven in March, and said that the store has had several changes to help improve services for the community since then.

"If you haven't been here before, just check us out," she said.

Helping Haven has was established in 2015, taking over the work of the Community Giveaway House, she said.

In the early 1970s, Ruth Nystrom and Ann Friesen created the Community Giveaway House, which would accept donations of items such as food, clothing, furniture, books and give them to whomever wanted the items at no charge.

The organization operated out of a North Havre house owned by Ruth and Karl Nystrom, and grew in reputation, with a number of people coming from out of state and even Canada to browse through the items. 

In 1998, Ruth Nystrom and Friesen incorporated the charity and joined the new non-profit board as two of its original board members.

The Community Giveaway House later relocated to its current location on the 400 Block of Sixth Avenue - in the basement of the Havre Central High School Building, renting the space from St. Jude Thaddeus Church - and changed its name to Havre's Helping Haven in 2015.

But the mission was still the same, Miller said, that the Helping Haven plays an important role in the community, selling low-priced items anyone can afford.

"It really truly is needed," she said.

The Helping Haven is aimed toward getting nice, used clothing and items to people at a fair price, and be able to provide people with things they otherwise wouldn't be able to afford, she said.

She added that the Helping Haven is a non-profit organization, but they have to charge for the items which they sell, although they receive the donations for free.

She said that the money the store makes off of the items is mainly to pay for operational costs, such as rent, internet and electricity. Any other profit made from the store goes to different organizations in the area, decided by Helping Haven's board. She said the board selects different organizations each year to donate to.

People often think the Helping Haven is part of St. Jude's but it's not associated with the Catholic church, she said.

The main reason people should donate is that a number of people in the community are in need of clean, usable things, she said.

Since she was hired, she added, the Helping Haven has cleaned up the store quite a bit, as well as breaking up the store into departments, with everything sized and organized. She added that the store has not gotten rid of anything but organized everything so it is easier to find items and the store is less cluttered.

"It just looks a lot better because you've got it in its own place," she said.

The Helping Haven also repaired their handicap lift, she said. The lift had been out of commission for some time and was one of the things she immediately wanted to repair so more community members will be able to access the store. She added that the store also has new racks and hangers for items in addition to now offering shopping carts for their shoppers.

Prices for items at the store vary. Unless it is a big-ticket item, such as a TV, most items range from 25 cents to $10, she said. She said the store wants to keep the prices down to make it as affordable as possible for people.

Although, she added, if people are still not able to afford items the Helping Haven is also implementing a voucher system with a few community organizations. Miller said that the vouchers are for $5 and people who are in need can go to St. Jude's and speak to Deacon Tim Maroney, or go to Bullhook Community Medical Center.

"Amazingly, you would not believe how many people come to Tim Maroney on a daily basis and if you know Tim, he's just a great guy," she said, and helps them out.

She added that the Helping Haven would love for the other churches and community organizations to purchase vouchers and offer them for people in need.

If people are interested in purchasing vouchers they can go to the Helping Haven and speak to her, Miller said.

The Helping Haven is also a great resource for students, she said. She added that the store also has a variety of Blue Pony and Montana State University-Northern clothes, hats and a number of other items. 

Miller said that the store has treasures for everyone not just low-income households. The store is currently stocked with Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas items for the holiday season and the store always has sales and special deals for customers.

She added that she always liked retail and the Helping Haven is a good fit for her. Retail is always busy and always has opportunities to organize, but one of her favorite things is seeing customers.


Reader Comments

Vicky Michels writes:

The improvement in the Helping Haven has been amazing. Please remember them when you need to downsize. Donations are put to great use.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2019