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Camp Haven’s annual Diamonds in the Rough gala at the Grand Harbor Clubhouse was a brilliant reminder of Henry Kissinger’s supposition, “A diamond is a chunk of charcoal that did well under pressure.”

Camp Haven – a transitional housing facility – helps homeless men in Indian River County rebuild their lives by providing temporary residency along with employment, psychological and personal counseling.

Through a framework of support, including educational opportunities, counseling, and encouragement Camp Haven helps the residents navigate the pressures of everyday life so they can move from homelessness to hopefulness, eventually becoming active, engaged, contributing members of our community.

Jermey Gable, standing, from left, Brenda Sposato, Sam Nerses, Debbie Lewis, David Moshier, Brenda and Chuck Bradley and Brian Korkus with Linda Teetz, seated, and Pat Stelz.

A diamond ice sculpture shimmered, and LED-lit balloons swayed as guests perused silent and live auction items as Bobby and the Blisters played lively, toe-tapping music to keep the crowd moving before guests dined on a lovely surf and turf dinner.

During dinner, Gordon Stewart, Camp Haven board member, brought the crowd up to date with news of 2019, including the completion of an outdoor fitness area made possible by the generosity of the John’s Island Foundation. For 2020, Stewart gave a project update on the progress made on the new meeting space and warming kitchen currently under construction.

As Camp Haven has grown, it’s been increasingly difficult to conduct mandatory meetings and have enough space for all the men to gather for their nightly meal in the 290 square-foot-room, explained Stewart. “You can imagine how cramped it is. It’s literally standing room only.”

Camp Haven Executive Director Chuck Bradley said, “Since Camp Haven opened in January 2014, we have helped 201 men and those that stayed beyond the 90 day probationary period 70 percent of those folks have graduated our programs. They left Camp Haven with jobs, with money and with housing.”

Bradley also shared that 100 percent of the men that have children pay child support and are making payments toward any debt they have, adding, “If you don’t pay, you don’t stay.”

The announcement of MaryAnne Egan as this year’s Diamond Award recipient by Linda Teetz was met with a standing ovation. Dearly loved by all who cross her path, Egan is always there to offer a helping hand.

“MaryAnne, you are definitely a jewel and a gem. This Diamond Award is really symbolic of your very good nature. Your very soul. We are so thankful for all that you do for the men at Camp Haven,” said Teetz.

Camp Haven graduate Vetson Derisse made a guest appearance via video to share his progress in the U.S. Army. Derisse talked of his commendations, his decision to reenlist, and excitement about his upcoming deployment to Korea.

“It’s a thrill to see these men go off to start their own businesses and get into professional careers,” said Brian Korkus, board chairman. “In addition to Vetson we’ve got a paramedic, IT professionals, plumbers and electricians.”

Camp Haven Assistant Director Jermey Gable proudly introduced the Camp Haven Graduate of the Year, David Moshier.

“This gentleman came to our family completely broken. Our approach to rebuilding his life was done carefully and gently. Through this, he was able to change some life-changing goals, both at Camp Haven and beyond,” said Gable.

“Most people need to hit rock bottom before they are willing to change. I hit that rock bottom as I found myself struggling with mental illness and addiction and eventually became homeless,” shared Moshier, now a successful business owner.

It took ending up in jail for Moshier to finally realize that his behaviors were disconnecting him from his family, friends and society.

Fortunately, in 2014 someone told him about Camp Haven, and with their help, he was able to start rebuilding his life. He credits the environment of support, stability, structure, and accountability as the impetus that has helped him to rebuild his life.

“I am proof of someone capable of change. I am trying to give back to this community because this community gave so much to me. I’m still a work in progress, but I’m grateful that my restoration has allowed me to be able to help others. I went from hopeless to hopeful. From taker to giver. From homeless to homeowner,” said Moshier referring to his publication the City Guide of Sebastian and Vero Beach and hosting of the City Guide Show, both of which bring attention to local nonprofits.

Auctioneer Wesley Davis closed the evening with a live auction and a special Call to the Heart to raise $26,000 so that Camp Haven can continue to provide mental health services.

“One of the biggest crises that we see right now is those individuals that need mental health services. We see it right here in our community,” said Davis.