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Rose Haven, an example of restoration and resilience 

Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities was founded on the idea of resiliency: promoting resiliency of those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, from substance abuse caused by PTSD.

Now PRISC is having to deal with its own challenge of resiliency regarding its flagship project Rose Haven — a home for female veterans in recovery — due to a global pandemic.

Cathedral ceilings now rise to roofline of Rose Haven’s upstairs bedrooms, which once had extremely low ceilings.

A wall between the living room and the kitchen has been demolished to provide open space for living, dining and cooking.

“COVID-19 completely shut down our retreats. It’s pushed back the house (Rose Have), and it’s dramatically affected our fundraising. COVID-19 is going to be the Darwinian selection agent for nonprofits,” said Rob Greene Sands, CEO and co-founder of PRISC. “We were fortunate that we had enough funding to get as far as have with the house. We still need HVAC and tankless hot water heater, but we’re fortunate — some nonprofits are completely out of existence.”

The progress on the restoration of the historic home on East Third Street in Washington has slowed but not stopped, despite the pandemic. Walls have been demolished to accommodate larger living spaces. A new woodworking shop in the backyard, once a blacksmith’s shop, is producing furniture made from wood sourced from Rose Haven, repurposed as a kitchen island and end tables. Electricians are busy rewiring the house, and Greene Sands and his uncle-in-law, Butch Storey, made the most noticeable improvement to the house themselves, spending 15 consecutive days painting its exterior a deep sky blue.

BOUNTY: Tomatoes, cucumbers and potted plants bearing both are being harvested and donated each wing to local food pantry Eagle’s Wings.

“After the electrician is done then the city inspects and the drywall goes in. That’s where (the professionals) stop, and that’s when our huge group of volunteers goes in and does the floors, the trim and the interior paint,” Greene Sand said.

Progress is also readily apparent in Pamlico Rose’s gardens, a space designed for meditation and healing. The gardens, a mix of raised beds for vegetables and ground-level beds stocked with daisies, sunflowers, hibiscus, iris, knock-out roses, gardenias and more, are thriving. The abundance is benefiting the community, as was the gardens’ purpose.

“So, we’re now taking harvest over every Monday to Eagle’s Wings. So far, we’re growing tomatoes, cucumbers and lots of herbs. We take potted (vegetable) plants too so the clients can take their own pots home to grow,” Greene Sands said. “We’re told that we take them over on Monday, and first thing Tuesday, the potted plants are the first thing to go.”

NEW LOOK: While demolition and rebuilding occurs inside Rose Haven, the garden is in full bloom.

Though Rose Haven’s annual Healing Vets Weekend, traditionally held in early May, was postponed to October at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Greene Sands said he’s not certain they’ll be able to host it safely then. Instead, the board is exploring online options, a benefit of which will be increased outreach.

“We’re developing, right now, a virtual retreat, and take what we did at face-to-face retreats and stick it on a virtual platform. It increases the footprint of who we can reach, which is good, because our goal is to reach many veterans,” Greene Sands said.

COVID-19 has also given PRISC time to explore more outreach options, which has led to launching a four-week summer session of classes for female veterans, including woodworking, stained glass-making, Reiki meditation and guided forest hikes.

“We’re hoping that we can keep numbers small and still be able to keep the people coming. You’re outside. You can be six-feet apart or you can be 16,” said Jeremiah Peed, a Beaufort County native and Army veteran who is running Rose Haven’s woodworking shop.

Peed said the programs now in place and those on the horizon are aimed at inviting all veterans to be a part of a larger community.

“Helping each other, being part of the community and being part of everything going on here — that’s where Rose Haven fits. They want to be a part of the community, they want to bring people here to learn. … It’s a new way to approach it.”

For more information about Pamlico Rose Institute for Sustainable Communities, visit pamlicorose.org.