Published in Economic Development
Daniel Jones, Executive Director of Haven of Rest Ministries Daniel Jones, Executive Director of Haven of Rest Ministries Photo by Jane Simons

Minimum wage, talent weigh on Haven of Rest Ministries

BY Sunday, December 24, 2017 06:17pm

Daniel Jones is entering into his sixth month at the helm of Haven of Rest Ministries in Battle Creek. His tenure followed a restructuring, the closure of one ministry, and staff reductions that decreased employment costs by 20 percent. Jones said these changes resulted in greater efficiencies and service delivery at a lower overall cost to the orgranization.

What’s the overall picture for your organization right now? 

The last couple of years we had growth that was not in the best interest and direction for the Haven. We expanded the administrative staff and really got ourselves over-extended. We were doing too many things in too many areas in too many ministries.

What major challenges does the Haven face in 2018?

Going beyond the day-to-day in making ends meet. We need to pay employees enough to keep them and have them prosper as well. The cost of health insurance for my employees has already gone beyond the amount I budgeted in June by 50 percent. I’m paying a portion of my own health insurance, too. You can’t get around it.

Given the current political climate, what are your biggest concerns going into 2018 in terms of government funding?

We’re required to have services available no matter what climate exists. I’m concerned about a reduction in funding for long-term substance abuse and drug abuse treatment programs. We recently lost 50 percent, or $100,000, of a large grant that was supporting our Men’s Recovery program, which is a long-term recovery program. Legislators are looking for shorter-term treatment programs and a more efficient use of money and that’s a climate driven by the need for efficiency for the use of dollars. 

I’m worried about losing even more funding. The effectiveness of this program is pretty drastic. I don’t want to see treatment programs becoming a political football. This cuts across party lines. We have real problems to address with the heroin and opioid epidemic. Our community is very, very generous and supporting the homeless is not a partisan issue.

How have your services changed over the years?

We are very individualized and patient-centric in terms of recovery. Recovery is a process, rather than an end state. As we go into 2018, we’re looking to offer even more in terms of recovery support.

How sustainable is your current funding model?

About one-third comes from individuals in the community who donate. We also get one-third from various grants and foundations sending us money and organizations like the Salvation Army. The last one-third comes from government contracts we have, including the Veterans Administration because we serve veterans. It’s a nice three-legged stool.

What keeps you up at night in terms of issues at the Haven?

Being able to pay the people who work here a wage that will keep them out of poverty. We’ve got almost 50 employees, and I need to be able to pay them between $11 and $15 per hour. We get good people, they get experience and move on to someplace where they can make that kind of money. We have a high rate of turnover, and I’m trying to raise up wages for a very low paid staff. That’s my pressure, to make sure we get good people and keep them. 

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