Her Haven, a new community-focused non-profit, launches May 17 at Fairfield University


Image: Her HavenFairfield University Interior Design student Carey Dougherty, of Monroe, Conn., founder and CEO of Her Haven, the new nonprofit organization that focuses on designing a personal space in the home of a deserving woman in the community, has been transforming environments since the age of six. On Thursday, May 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., Her Haven and Fairfield University's student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) will unveil design plans for its first two Habitat for Humanity projects at a launch celebration, "Designing a Difference," in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. The Fairfield University Interior Design Program is a co-sponsor of this event.

The public is invited to attend and learn more about ways in which it might support Her Haven and its mission to empower deserving women with limited resources through transformative design. Donations will be gratefully accepted. Light hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served. (For information about the event and the organization, visit www.herhaven.org.)

For this first venture as an official 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, Her Haven has partnered with Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and a team of Fairfield Interior Design program students on two Habitat for Humanity projects for Nordia Black and Elizabeth Bosques, both of Bridgeport.

The students have split into two teams, each of which are working on designing a personal space for Black and Bosques in each woman's new Habitat home. The team members, all of whom enthusiastically volunteered to work with Her Haven for the unusual experience it offers, will present their team design concepts at the launch celebration. Interior Design student Jenine Beck was energized by Dougherty's "enthusiasm, professionalism, passion and philanthropy" and came on board to "use our education in such a positive way. It really isn't what I can get out of it, but rather what I can give to it." And student Jim Metzger said, "As a male, I am thrilled to be part of this organization ... So many women in my own life have helped me so much, it is my way of giving back or paying it forward."

Dolan School of Business students also played a role in Her Haven. Students in "Managing Nonprofit Organizations," a special topics course taught by Catherine Giapponi, Ph.D., associate professor of management, helped Dougherty develop a complete business plan.

Dougherty sought out Habitat for Humanityas a partner because the two organizations share the common goal of community interaction with volunteers and donors as an element of their missions. Both organizations do work that provide volunteers and donors an opportunity, as Caitlin Scanlan, director of development at Habitat for Humanity pointed out, "to learn about the challenges faced by low-income families and the impact safe, healthy and affordable housing can have in our community." Scanlan continued, "The opportunity to partner with Her Haven will be a wonderful experience for Elizabeth and Nordia ... Creating a space that is designed specifically for each woman is a special opportunity that they would never have been able to provide for themselves."

Each design plan will be personalized to Black's and Bosques' needs and tastes and will provide inspiration through individual design. Scanlan admitted that, "As single mothers, their commitment to providing affordable and safe homes for their families can sometimes be overwhelming." The benefit she sees in Her Haven's approach to relieving some of the pressure on these clients is that, "this experience will help build their confidence and offer them an opportunity they would not otherwise have been offered."

The Connecticut Chapter of ASID is showing its support for Her Haven by sponsoring the "Designing A Difference" launch on May 17. Dougherty, an ASID member, invites the support of the community, "We look forward to making Her Haven a dominant force in our community and with the help of ourfriends, neighbors and merchants we will begin to expand our reach and touch unrecognized women who work as teachers, breadwinners, protectors, healers and caregivers in so many arenas."

For information about Fairfield and its programs, visit www.fairfield.edu and about the Certificate in Interior Design at www.fairfield.edu/interiordesign.

Image: (L-R), Fairfield University Interior Design student Carey Dougherty, of Monroe, Conn., right, has founded Her Haven, a new nonprofit organization that focuses on designing a personal space in the home of a deserving woman in the community. Here she works on a Habitat for Humanity home for resident Nordia Black, left, with help from student Bethany Armstrong.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on April 24, 2012

Vol. 44, No. 280