Mignon Kennedy has been the Executive Director of Gabriel’s Horn Homeless Shelter since 2010. Established in 2003 and acquiring their current facility on McCool Road in South Haven in 2004, they provide homeless single women and homeless women with children with a clean and safe place to stay for short-term shelter. They also assist the women and families with job training and programs, along with after-care assistance when they leave the shelter.
“Therapy Works provides therapy services for free offsite, and case management is the main service we provide, where we discuss challenges and find solutions. We help them establish short and long-term goals, apply for jobs, and provide transportation for important appointments,” she explained. Through a grant they received from the Porter County Community Foundation (PCCF) a few years ago, the organization was able to purchase a van to transport people.
Along with the PCCF, partners helping the charitable organization with their worthy goals include the United Way of Porter County, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), WorkOne, ALTRUSA International, Tri Kappa, and area churches.
Kennedy graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree from Purdue University in Psychology and received her Master’s in Social Work from Indiana University Northwest.
“After I received my bachelors’ degree, I worked in the mental health field and later with people with disabilities, and interned at the Spring Valley Shelter," she explained. "These experiences helped me see how prevalent mental illness is. People don’t walk around with signs saying ‘I am depressed.’ Through these experiences, I gained insight on how people suffer everyday of their lives, and for the need for social change, where we take better care of one another.”
Kennedy discussed what led her to Gabriel’s Horn.
“While doing my final internship for the M.S., I applied for position at Gabriel’s Horn. Co-founder Glenda Owens helped train me and she did great fundraising work for the organization," she explained. "Tim Sullivan, the first Board President, was also terrific to work with and a valuable mentor.”
Current board of directors were also listed as major influences. “Their variety of backgrounds and desire to help the community inspires me to promote and implement our mission, to help as many homeless women and families as we can.”
Outside the organization, Kennedy said her socially active mom had been an inspiration for her life’s path. Her two children and husband are usually involved in her free time. “I love going camping with my family, going to the beach and trips with my kids. My son and I recently visited Europe and family there. We try to do bike riding or take a hike every week. We love outdoor activities a lot.”
This interest influences Gabriel’s Horn’s annual 12K run on a challenging BMX course in Portage’s Imagination Glen. It is one of the organization’s biggest fundraising activities. “Oh, I don’t run in it, but participants really enjoy the event.”
Despite challenges of homelessness and low income, Kennedy observes people who go through the program “are usually happy. They are grateful not only for the roof over their head, but the one-on-one time we spend with people.” She realizes “we all go through challenges, but homelessness is particularly discouraging. We want people to smile again and have some solace. We want to encourage them not to give up. Results may not be seen for a few years, but we try to be a springboard for self-sufficiency.”
For more information about Gabriel’s Horn, please visit http://www.gabrielshelter.org/.