Over a decade ago, Sylvia Anthony founded Sylvia’s Haven Inc. with a simple vision “to provide transitional housing for homeless, single, pregnant and parenting women of the Commonwealth.” She started this dream in a single rented home with the doors open to provide food, shelter and respite. Sylvia’s Haven became incorporated on January 25, 1987 as “Life for the Little Ones.” Today, Anthony’s vision has grown to fifty (50)—two and three bedroom housing units at the former Ft. Devens Army Base in North Central Massachusetts. The McKinney Act, a federal regulation, authorizes the government to lease property on closed military bases to groups that help the homeless. Sylvia’s Haven met the criteria. The property is leased for $1 a year. She has helped more than 700 women and children. The program relies on financial contributions, donations of furniture, equipment, and volunteer assistance to operate.
Anthony believed “if I can shelter a few of these women and their little ones, it is a beginning.” Her beginning has become an oasis of life, light, and hope for many. Because of her vision, commitment, hard work, diligence and steadfast faith, Sylvia’s Haven provides for the immediate needs of homeless and battered women and children. She provides a safe, comfortable, secure and nurturing environment where these families can recover from the traumas of homelessness, violence and abuse.
Further, Anthony treats the “whole family.” She provides support, counseling, education, job training, financial and career counseling, parenting skills training and other support, as well as the education necessary to assist homeless and battered women to become spiritually and emotionally healed, confident, self-reliant and financially self-sufficient.
In detail, Sylvia’s Haven is a Life Skills Management Transitional Facility. Simply put, it helps homeless women and their children prepare themselves to make a transition from dependence to self-sufficiency and independence. They are given the opportunity to face life’s challenges with hope and resolve and become contributing citizens in our society. For many, this is their last hope.
Anthony started the Haven initiative by loaning the program $10,000 the first year and $12,000 the second year. She was gradually paid back in small amounts when the ministry could afford to do so. She voluntarily took no pay until the end of 1994. In 1995, her allowance was $11,600. Over the years the Board of Directors has increased her salary bringing her present-day salary to $56,368. It was commendable that the Board of Directors progressively increased her salary to make up “in part” for shortages in the past. With or without the salary, Anthony has been completely committed to sheltering homeless women.