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Polar Plunge to Help Haven For Homeless Youth

The Polar Bear Plunge is at Fisherman's Beach (Humphrey Street) in Swampscott on Wednesday at 11 a.m., with registration at 10:15 a.m.

Gini Mazman, director of The Haven Project. Credit: Terry Date
Gini Mazman, director of The Haven Project. Credit: Terry Date

Tender-footed bathers who thunder over cold sand to an awakening surf Thursday will be plunging for homeless youth.

The 2014 Swampscott Yacht Club's Polar Bear Plunge at Fisherman's Beach will benefit the Swampscott Public Library and The Haven Project.

The Haven Project opened a year ago at 57 Munroe Street in Lynn. It provides food, clothing, and emotional support for young people, 17-24, who are on their own and homeless. 

It also helps them find emergency and longer-term housing as well as work. For those who want to dive headlong into self-help the Haven Project helps them enroll in education programs.

Nationally, they are a large group of at-risk youth, their numbers exacerbated by hard times and family struggles, says Haven Project Director Gini Mazman.

And within in six months of leaving foster care or other state programs, some 76 percent of these young people end up either in jail, pregnant or homeless, the director said.

While the youth the Haven Project helps are mostly from Lynn they are also from other North Shore cities and towns. There is a sizeable population of young adults on the street.

Lynn has the highest per capita rate of homeless unaccompanied youth — homeless without parents or guardians — in the state. It has the third highest rate overall, trailing only Boston and Springfield, she said. 

The Haven Project has helped almost 100 kids in its first year, said Mazman, after setting down a bag with turkey and beans and tomato sauce — the makings of a chili for a Project dinner this week.

Right now, 18 young people regularly stop by the large brick building in downtown Lynn.

The Haven is open Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Money the Polar Bear Plunge raises for The Haven Project will be used to build an urban cafe downstairs from the Project's space at the East Coast International Church building. The church provides the nonprofit Haven Project a place to operate.

The cafe will provide jobs for Haven homeless and help support Haven programs.

To make an online doation to the program, click the following link:   https://fundly.com/m2/swampscott-polar-plunge-supporting-the-haven-project

Young adults in need of help, can reach the Haven Project anytime by phone at 781-913-5738. Those who want learn more about the program can do so by visiting its website, or emailing office@havenproject.net.

Polar Bear Plunge registration begins New Year's Day at 10:15 a.m. at the Fish House, with the plunge following promptly at 11.  Past Plunge beneficiaries have included: The Friends of Swampscott Sailing, My Brother’s Table, The Jared Raymond and Jennifer Harris Scholarship Funds, The Legere Family Education Fund, The Whelan Family Education Fund, Journeys of Hope, The Maureen Ingram Scholarship Fund, and the Swampscott Education Foundation. To date, we have raised over $60,000 for local charities.

Anyone interested in simply making a donation can either mail a check directly to the SYC Fund at 425 Humphrey St, Swampscott, MA 01907.

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