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Our History

Desert Haven Enterprises began with one parent seeking a playmate for her son who had developed an intellectual disability as a result of having contracted meningitis.

Responding to an ad placed by Luella Henstra in a local newspaper, a small group of parents met on July 15, 1954, in the Mrs. Henstra's home. Out of that meeting grew the Antelope Valley Association for Retarded Children, later to become the Association for Retarded Citizens of

Antelope Valley, and today, Desert Haven Enterprises, Incorporated.

That same year, preschool classes were begun in the homes of parents, and by 1957, the classes had expanded to full-time at a separate facility built by community members, business persons, and civic leaders on land donated by Luella and Jack Henstra.

In 1966, little more than a decade later, the organization began vocational training programs for adults. The 25,000 square foot Desert Haven facility was built in 1982 and included a 14,000 square foot industrial workshop. Numerous new programs were added and, in 1992, in anticipation of further expansion, DHE completed construction of the 16,000 square foot Administration/Program building, as well as a 3,000 square foot warehousing facility in 2001. The long-awaited day training activity center, Project Independence, opened in May 2007. Additional new programming opportunities are currently in the planning stages for development in the very near future.

Today, maximizing the potential and independence of persons with developmental disabilities through vocational training and job placement is the primary function of Desert Haven Enterprises.


Programs of Desert Haven Enterprises are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), the nation's accreditation agency in the fields of medical rehabilitation, behavioral health, and employment and community support services. In April 2012, DHE was awarded its ninth consecutive, three-year accreditation, the highest level achievable. Programs accredited were employment skills training services, community employment services, and community integration services.

Desert Haven will undergo its next CARF survey in March/April of 2015. Anyone interested in reviewing the most recent survey may do so by contacting the Executive Director.

DHE programs, services and facilities are also licensed and/or vendored by the U.S. Department of Labor, the California State Department of Rehabilitation, the California State Department of Developmental Services, the State of California Department of Social Services, and the City of Lancaster.

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Mission Statement

Desert Haven Enterprises, Incorporated is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to developing, enhancing, and promoting the capabilities of persons with developmental disabilities.

The primary objective of the agency is to enable persons served to maximize their potential to become independent, self-sufficient and participating members of their community through prevocational and vocational training, independent living and community skills training, job placement, community-based employment, and supportive services.

Philosophy Statement

Work plays an integral role in the lives of human beings. Work enhances a person's feeling of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-respect. Through work, people become productive, contributing members of their community.

Persons with intellectual disabilities and other developmental disabilities are no different. They, too, desire and seek the opportunity to work. They, too, gain feelings of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-respect through the work experience, and they, too, become productive, contributing members of their community.


Providing employment opportunities for persons with developmental disabilities since 1954.