CHIP — “Interview with Jenni White, Founding Executive Director of Trinity Haven”

Rob Burgess, NUVO April 24 2019

Jenni White was recently named the founding executive director of Trinity Haven, Indiana’s first home for LGBTQ youth who have nowhere safe to live.

Slated to open this summer, Trinity Haven is located in a large Arts and Crafts-style home in Mapleton-Fall Creek. It offers a safe, welcoming transitional home for LGBTQ youth ages 16 to 21. When it opens, Trinity Haven will be able to serve as many as 10 youth at a time, with the potential to eventually house 15 or more.

Every month, between 40 and 65 young people arrive at Indiana Youth Group without a safe place to live. Many of those youth end up sleeping on park benches, in their cars, or under other dangerous conditions.

Trinity Haven is collaborating with IYG, the city’s experts in the needs of LGBTQ youth, which will provide its effective, strengths-based programming at the house and also at IYG’s new headquarters just a few blocks from Trinity Haven. Through its community partnerships, IYG can refer Trinity Haven residents to LGBTQ-friendly organizations such as Goodwill’s Metropolitan High School and Excel Center, Indiana Legal Services, and Adult & Child Health.

Volunteers have been working for more than a year to bring the home to reality. Today, $900,000 of the $1.5 million needed to complete Trinity Haven has been raised. Renovations are underway, and the approval process with the Indiana Department of Child Services has begun.

Funds to date have come from Lilly Endowment, Impact 100 of Greater Indianapolis, the Faith & Action Project at Christian Theological Seminary, the Mike L. and Sue L. Smith Family Fund, Trinity Episcopal Church, St. Richard’s Episcopal School, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, and many generous individual donors.

Trinity Episcopal Church incubated Trinity Haven until it received its own nonprofit designation in 2018. While all youth will be warmly welcomed at Trinity’s worship services if they wish to attend, there are no religious requirements for residents of Trinity Haven.

A native of Logansport, White has worked at Coburn Place Safe Haven since 2010, most recently as vice president of mission impact. She has also worked in various capacities with the Damien Center and Leadership Evansville. She is active with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Indianapolis Continuum of Care, and she is an actor at the Phoenix Theatre and several community theaters in Indianapolis. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Indianapolis and a master’s degree from the University of Evansville. She and her wife live on the near east side with their teenage son.

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