Mission & History

Mission of The Havens Relief Fund Society

To help struggling New York City residents and their families overcome imminent financial crises that might otherwise have devastating impacts on their lives by providing modest, one-time grants through a network of volunteer community leaders and professionals. 

History of The Havens Relief Fund Society

The Havens Relief Fund Portrait of Charles HavenSociety was founded in 1871 by Charles Gerard Havens, who was born in Greenport, Long Island, in 1808. At age 14, he moved with his family to New York City, finding work as a clerk in a real estate office. Later he became a lawyer, investing wisely in real estate.

Mr. Havens believed that the vicissitudes of life could temporarily derail almost anyone of limited means, and that a modest grant at the right time might help set things right. To test his theory, he gave sums of money to five of his trusted business associates, asking them to be on the lookout for people who were on the precipice of a financial catastrophe that could be solved with a one-time grant. They carried out his wishes with enthusiasm and success.