Neli Vazquez-Rowland - Community Service

Chicago, Illinois

Neli Vazquez Rowland is the President/Co-founder of A Safe Haven Foundation. A Safe Haven is a world class, unique, vertically integrated ‘eco- system’ nonprofit that is successfully rebuilding lives from poverty and homelessness. Her goal is to inspire and influence a ‘paradigm shift’ on how our Nation addresses the issues of poverty, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction with protocols that offer an effective, efficient delivery system by connecting services and leveraging investment resources of public and private entities that have a shared responsibility and common goal of making a measurable and positive social impact to society.  A Safe Haven delivery system is designed to help people in crisis achieve sustainable self-sufficiency and to achieve the ‘double bottom line’ of saving money and more importantly saving lives long-term.


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37 Comments
Margarita Nieves Bates

You have my vote. A safe haven not only saved my life ash family also saved my children. We have our lives back. Neli has always been our voice and continues to fight for individuals to have a second chance. Without reservation I nominate Neli.

June 13 at 8:51 AM
Rebecca Okelly

I was mandated to ASH in 2003. I had a extended background. I have had the pleasure of residing and working in 5 of our locations. My life was a mess when I arrived at ASH. The program taught how to live sober one day at a time. I had no family in Chicago, so ASH welcomed me with open arms. I gained structure, guidance, and integrity. Neli believed in me, and loved me like family. She played a big role in enhancing my social skills. She would send me to nice events, and tell me to be yourself. Neli is the most amazing person. She is contagious. I always wanted to volunteer on all of her projects. She has inspired so many men and women. Where ever I go I run into people who once resided at ASH. I have never once heard any thing bad regarding Neli. I love Neli from the bottom of my heart. I know she deserves the award.

June 13 at 8:44 AM
Michelle Leopold

I would vote for A Safe Haven Foundation / Neli Vazquez Rowland 1 million times because they have saved millions of lifes and the families connected..they help society as a whole. .Recovery brings safer people, streets etc...they gave me my life back and taught me how to live. i completed internships for college with them I learned more than any other agency ever taught me. i have to say they are #1 !!!

June 11 at 6:07 PM
Clemente Nicado

Neli has always demonstrated her leadership as a businesswoman. What makes her unique is her caring heart and passion to help everyone, especially the most vulnerable ones. That's one of the characteristics that make her an extraordinary person who positively impacts beyond the city of Chicago. She's inspired me not only as an entrepreneur but also to the point of contributing to her cause. Thank you for being a role model to the community Neli!

June 10 at 9:36 PM
Jessica Dargiel

Neli is an outspoken advocate for ending poverty and homelessness. She brings an incredible amount of attention to issues that are systematically ignored, elevating the stories of those who are often forgotten.

June 10 at 2:56 PM
Corina Nelson

I am a Development Intern at A Safe Haven and am fortunate to say that I have the privilege to be working for Neli. She has made my experience here so fulfilling and comfortable. I couldn't thank her enough for what she does. Her work is beyond words.

June 10 at 9:19 AM
Barbara Gorczyca

Neli has an unmatched passion and enthusiasm for A Safe Haven Foundation and it's amazing mission. Very few people would not be moved once hearing Neli speak about not only the clients served at A Safe Haven Foundation but the great many success stories of people completing their programs.

June 08 at 2:47 PM
Sherise Nicholas

Neli, is a powerhouse and one of the best social butterflies in the world. She has played an intricate part in my life, I have worked for Neli as a Program Manager for 13 years. The reward of working at A Safe Haven is not monetary, but saving lives and watching residents come from a homeless cocoon and turn into self sufficient and independent butterflies! Neli has founded the A Safe Haven model, Aspire, Transform, and Sustain-this model will work anywhere. I await the day when A Safe Haven turns into a franchise like McDonald's, in New York, California, Atlanta, etc. Neli is my shero, and I nominate her for extraordinary service, and dedication in putting an end to homelessness in Chicago and abroad!

June 08 at 12:11 PM
Sean McMillen

Growing up I watched my Mother (Angalia Bianca) slowly spiral out of control from heroin addiction. I watched her go to jail so many times. She always left me with my grandmother because she was always high. By the time I was in 8th grade I went to live with my grand parents full time as my Mom never came home anymore. I didn't see her for over 15 years and I really believed that the next time I would see her would be in a casket. I heard that she went to a program called A Safe Haven in 2011. My family told me she was doing good and was sober but I was not ready to see her yet. After 3 years of knowing that my mom was working hard to get her life back I finally contacted her. I know that this is a good program because my mom had no hope of recovery and I never believed she would change. Today I am so proud of her and the person she has become thanks to Neli and A Safe Haven. I have never met Neli in person yet I am so grateful to her because she gave me back my mom. Thank you Safe Haven.

June 08 at 11:32 AM
Dawn Truschke

I am continually amazed at Neli's drive and passion in serving the our most vulnerable citizens. She is a true innovator when it comes to developing methods and programs to assist people in crisis with becoming self-sufficient and regaining their sense of hope. I have worked in the Social Service field for 31-years and Neli is the first President of an organization I have seen interact directly with clients. She talks to our clients daily and really wants to learn what is working and what we need to improve. Neli Vazquez Rowland is well deserving of the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award!!

June 08 at 11:14 AM
Zarko Njakara

I'm proud to be an IT Director at A Safe Haven Foundation, an institution that goes way above and beyond giving only food and shelter to homeless and other disadvantaged individuals and families, but also provides them with a holistic multitude of services so they can stabilize and reintegrate into society. In this entire success story Neli is "the secret ingredient", an incredibly energetic president who always remains in control, lives and breathes the mission, cares about clients, handles incredible amounts of messaging and communication, is a great motivator and has a built-in drive for constant improvements. I told her this several times throughout the last several years and I still mean it - I love what she is doing! This world needs more people like Neli.

June 08 at 11:03 AM
Alicia Rodriguez

Working at A Safe Haven has opened my eyes to so many things. Neli is such an inspiration to so many people and has accomplished so many things. Her leadership clearly shines through in the organization and confronts the problems people want to turn their heads to. I am very thankful to be working under such an ambitious and courageous woman like Neli and such an outstanding organization. She is truly deserving of this award!

June 08 at 11:01 AM
Chef Marshall Galbreath

Socrates once said," The highest realms of thought are impossible to reach without first attaining an understanding of compassion." Neli's level of compassion is endless and I can personally attest to how that compassion has made an impact in my life. As I, a U.S. Army Vet, once faced challenges in life found myself in a state of despair. I was dealing, well actually struggling , with drug addiction and legal issues which stemmed from the addiction . I found myself homeless in no time with only thoughts of the whys, and hows. I was accepted into ASHF and it was at that point in life where my life did a 360 degree turnaround. Despite the many daily affairs that Neli has to address she never and I repeat," NEVER" will not take the time to meet with residents to see how she, along with the rest of the staff, can assist them with improving the quality of their life. I was grateful for the opportunity to meet her in 2010 and she told me that if I follow the step by step process designed at ASHF I would be rewarded with a life that was both sustainable as well as gratifying. Long story short she was right as I have had the opportunity to grow as a person, strengthen my family ties, college graduate, and become ASHF's Food Service Director. Neli's compassion and inspiration reaches many throughout the world as homelessness is not just a City of Chicago epidemic, but one that is global. Her message has reached the ears of many international dignitaries who have implemented the model that has been created at ASHF. With the utmost conviction there is not another who deserves the award more than she does. She helped save my life!

June 08 at 10:29 AM
Steve Wolff

Neli leads ASHF with boundless energy and passion. Her vision has enabled ASHF to expand, diversify and weather many storms, in particular the challenges associated with the Land of Lincoln's financial morass. She has an intense focus on the needs of the community and the clients whom are in such desperate need. Undoubtedly, Neli is one of the most qualified and deserving candidates for the Maxwell Team's Community Service Award. I am proud to have the opportunity to support her and the ASHF team.

June 08 at 9:49 AM
Therese Mcmahon

A key component to rebuilding the lives of clients who come to A Safe Haven is thru the work of case managers working with job developers to find career opportunities for residents to achieve self sufficiency. It works.

June 08 at 9:47 AM
Brian M. Rowland

Neli is an amazing woman who not only saved me but has helped over 100,000 men, women, children and veterans like me get stable and become positive members of society. Her boundless energy and unyielding drive create a growing impact by addressing the issue and barriers those in need face in stabilizing, gaining employment and a roof over their families heads which are basic needs of everyone. I am proud to be married to this wonderful woman for over 25 years. Brian M. Rowland

June 08 at 9:35 AM
Mason Astill

I haven't worked at A Safe Haven for all that long, but even so, I can see there is a reason Neli has been nominated for this award, and there's a reason she has such an amazing and dedicated staff working at A Safe Haven. Because of her leadership, A Safe Haven is able to help over 5,000 unduplicated individuals a year, to change lives, to fight addictions, to find people homes homes, to bring people out of poverty. There are times in my own life that myself and my relatives really needed an organization like this one, and that Neli has not only created one, but made it as big and successful as it is while still innovating every year, that shows something exceptional. Neli is the perfect candidate for this award, and her work with A Safe Haven proves you couldn't find a person more deserving.

June 08 at 9:29 AM
Chris Arial

Neli Vazquez Rowland inspires everyone she comes in contact with. Her clear determination to help the most vulnerable in our society has made A Safe Haven a whopping success. She pushes boundaries, making every single one of the residents feel special. Although I have only known Neli for a short period of time, I have been inspired by her infectious passion, boundless creativity, and seemingly endless generosity. What an incredible individual!

June 08 at 9:26 AM
Angela Gerontakis

Neli Vazquez Rowland is truly an amazing women. She gives hope to those who are struggling with homelessness and poverty and provides the tools to help them get back on their feet long term. She has taken an idea of helping the homeless to a whole new level. Neli is a great person with a big heart and will not stop until we end homelessness.

June 08 at 9:15 AM
Christine Byrne Bianco'

My sister Angalia Bianco was an addict for a very long time .I lost her to drugs and being in jail for years . I felt the sister I had was gone forever . After getting released from , she ended back there . When she was released the last time she finally got help from a safe haven. There she was giving the hope and strength to over come many years of drug addiction, I now have the sister I missed for many years ..

June 08 at 5:32 AM
Edwin Pagan

I am an ASH alum and had it not been for Neli and ASH I wouldn't be where I am today! I paroled to the men's damen site in 2011 and was in the halfway back program. It not only got me sober but my last few weeks in the program I met my now fiancée. We are together and are to be married in the next few Months we have a beautiful 3 year old daughter. My fiancée and I have been sober since leaving the program. This program Neli created not only changes lives, it creates families. Happy, loving, Sober families!! There isn't another person whom deserves this award other than Neli. She is so selfless, giving and has a heart of gold!! Thanks Neli and ASHF!

June 07 at 7:59 PM
Donnella Gill

I currently reside at A SafeHaven. Prior to coming to A SafeHaven, I was homeless and struggling with a 29 year drug addiction. Ms. Neli and A Safe Haven has afforded me the opportunity to attend the classes, groups and treatment sessions I needed to recover. It has been over 2 years now and I am so grateful. I thank God for people like Neli and places like this.

June 07 at 6:52 PM
Bernita Riley

I was homeless and my spirit broken. I came to A SafeHaven and didn't know what to expect. Since coming to A SafeHaven, I've completed a computer class, the Strive Job Readiness Program and the Culinary Arts Program. A SafeHaven and Neli Rowland has given me a new beginning. As busy as she is, she takes the time to stop and talk with me, just to see how things are going. She always encourages and motivates me. She is an angel. Through God, Ms. Neli and A SafeHaven, I am a miracle.

June 07 at 6:44 PM
Dorothy DiMedio

Neli Vazquez Rowland the President/Co-founder of A Safe Haven Foundation is a true role model. Her passion, determination, leadership and endless energy to work at her life mission makes me and others feel inspirired and motivated. It is an honor to know Neli. Without reservation I nominate her to receive this honor.

June 07 at 5:38 PM
Joseph Bianco

My niece (Angalia Bianca) was badly addicted to heroin and on the streets for over 36 years. So many times we tried to help her. We sent her to private rehabs many times but once she got out she would go right back. We had to raise her children and watch helplessly as she sunk deeper into hell. It got to the point where she stopped coming home for days, then weeks, then months, then years. We did not know if she was dead or alive. I would cry at night and so did her grandmother who raised her. We always thought we would get "that phone call" in the middle of the night saying "shes dead" We finally located her 5 years ago when we found out that she got out of jail and was in a program called A Safe Haven in Chicago. We were not even convinced that they could help her but slowly we watched and slowly she got better. Without A Safe Haven we would have never gotten her back alive. On behalf of myself and my entire family we believe Neli Vazquez-Rowland should by all means being honored with this award. We are so proud of Angalia and the woman she has become thanks to Neli and A Safe Haven. THANK YOU A SAFE HAVEN! God Bless YOU Neli

June 07 at 2:04 PM