Volunteers replace community dome cover at River Haven

The dome is a gathering place at River Haven.

by Jill Forman

Young adults swarmed over the skeleton of the large geodesic dome in the center of River Haven. A lift was lowering a giant canvas covering. Outside and inside the dome Turning Point staff, volunteers, reporters, residents (and dogs) gave advice, took pictures and helped pull on the new cover which was stiff and hard to unfurl and place. Overhead, a drone recorded the event. It was quite a scene.

Thanks to a grant from the Kenrose Kitchen Table Fund, River Haven is getting some much-needed upgrades: the new dome cover, solar panels for each residence with small individual refrigerators, and stoves for the Community Dome. Residents are grateful; the refurbished dome will be “…warmer, cleaner, and collect less dust.” And the future installation of solar panels will allow them to have better lights and their own refrigerators. At the moment they have solar-powered lanterns, and cold food can only be stored in four refrigerators in the large dome. The new stoves in the dome will replace a “camp stove” that has been shared by the 20-22 residents.

In addition to the food storage and preparation, the dome has multiple couches, chairs, desks and shelves. It is a gathering place with room for everyone, so making it more comfortable and efficient will be a welcome improvement. New windows make it much lighter and more cheerful, and the windows are easily replaceable.

“This is exciting,” said a resident.

Many of the volunteers have on t-shirts that say “Service Above Self.” This is Rotaract, a group associated with Rotary; they are young professionals – teachers, real estate agents, engineers, sales executives, bankers – who are a service arm of the organization. At one moment, they were indeed “Above,” many of them climbing all over the dome and adjusting the new exterior. First they had to spend a good hour talking out screws and other devices fastening the old cover to the foundation and door frames.

Students from Ventura College’s Human Services program helped out also, as did an intern from the Solar Tech Program at Moorpark College. The intern will be coordinating the installation of the mini solar systems for the individual residences.

River Haven is a transitional living facility operated by Turning Point Foundation, which offers 14 community-based mental health programs at 11 locations. 85-91% of the residents are able to obtain permanent housing. Jason Meek, Executive Director of Turning Point, states “We are a community resources, accessible to everybody.”

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