Little Bit of Haven was founded by St. Louis County residents Rob and Candice Goeggel in 2013 after their son, Henry, was rushed to St. Louis Children’s Hospital shortly after birth for emergency heart surgery. For the first time in their lives, they felt homeless. Taking turns sleeping on a vinyl chair in their son’s room, it was difficult to find a place to shower or do laundry. And they met other families facing similar challenges, many of them from communities far away from St. Louis. One family from Alaska had a daughter who had been in the hospital for three months waiting for a lung transplant. Another from Springfield, Mo., had a newborn son undergoing a third heart surgery.
After Henry’s recovery, the Goeggels were filled with a desire to help families like the ones they encountered. They led the effort to transform the parsonage of a church building within walking distance of St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital into a home away from home for families facing medical crises. With the help of many generous volunteers and supporters, the bathroom was completely renovated, hardwood floors were refinished, and bedrooms were decorated and furnished. Little Bit of Haven opened its doors in January 2014.
Tim and Lauren Niermann of Centralia, Ill., also played an instrumental role in creating Little Bit of Haven. Their 3-year-old daughter, Gracie, was diagnosed with a rare condition called Kabuki Syndrome. In April 2013, Gracie passed away due to complications from pneumonia. The Niermanns know the difficulties facing families with sick children all too well since Gracie was in and out of St. Louis Children’s Hospital most of her life. At one point, they resorted to sleeping in their car in the hospital garage to be close to their daughter at a critical time. They worked closely with the Goeggels to ensure Little Bit of Haven feels like a home. The library of the parsonage, which was decorated by the Niermann family, is now called Gracie’s Chapel.
Several local church congregations provided funds to furnish and decorate Little Bit of Haven’s four bedrooms, including Blessed Savior Lutheran Church in O’Fallon, Ill.; St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Clayton, Mo.; Jacob’s Well in St. Louis; and Faith Lutheran Church in Oakville, Mo. We are tremendously grateful to all of the organizations and individuals who have contributed to our establishment and continuing operation. Our ministry could not serve families in need without their support.