As a former Lansing police officer, Kyle Hein, the founder of the nonprofit organization known as MI Heroes Haven in Eaton Rapids, knows personally the stress and trauma many first responders face. He saw the need for a place first responders and veterans could go to deal with the trauma they experienced. He envisioned a place to help them handle the stresses that can result in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), family breakups and mental health issues. He created MI Heroes Haven, also known as simply Heroes Haven, to fill this need.
Hein’s father, Kevin Hein, owns the Eaton Stamping/FASCO building on Haven Street in Eaton Rapids. He encouraged his son to be “part of the solution, not the problem.” Kevin Hein offered 4,500 square feet in the building to house the services that Kyle Hein proposed, and the project began about two years ago.
Kyle uses non-clinical and creative ways to connect with those who visit Heroes Haven and stresses that it is not a “good old boys club.”
You will find men and women there, along with at-risk youth.
“Trauma is trauma, and we want to provide solutions,” Kyle explained. “We are all-inclusive and want to give everyone a sense of purpose.”
He said they currently serve 20-45 people a week.
The coffee pot is always on, in an area set up like a coffee shop. He describes the services at Heroes Haven as “a VFW for veterans and first responders that is dry.”
Coffee and conversation are part of the ‘therapy’ offered, he added. He noted that Heroes Haven provides a place to go for those with a need to get out of the house.
‘Mail Call’ is a unique service they offer. Bad news often comes in the mail, Kyle explained, whether it be bills, divorce documents, a job loss or something else negative. Once a week they offer the chance for attendees to bring in and sort their personal mail and process how it impacts them.
Lack of childcare can’t be used an excuse, he added, as they also offer a ‘Kids Haven’ — a playroom for children while their parent(s) are busy with a program. Morgan’s Hugs, another local nonprofit, helped outfit the room.
There is an accredited veterans service officer from the State of Michigan that comes in on Mondays.
Strength training is used to offset the effects of trauma and daily stressors for participants. The HOOK program matches up first responders, at-risk youth and veterans for team building and a sense of purpose in the functional fitness area. Team River Runner also offers kayaking experiences facilitated by a veteran for the participants.
Employment assistance is another service offered at Heroes Haven, including resume writing. Kyle said there is a small business incubator for those looking to create their own business. For those who need it, Heroes Haven also has a small food pantry, stocked by Family Fare and Morgan’s Hugs.
“Our goal is to have people to leave here feeling better than when they came in,” Kyle said. “I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
MI Heroes Haven is also a drop-off point for new and gently used winter gear for homeless veterans. Contact them at (517) 706-1200 or stop by 402 E. Haven St. in Eaton Rapids.