Community of Hope is a collaborative effort by the Church in North Portland. As a Christian service organization, Community of Hope supports Portland homeless single parent families in transforming their lives. Because place and stability matter preference is given to North Portland families.
Our program builds on the strengths families already have while providing housing, classes, resources, and mentoring. This holistic support helps parents take personal responsibility to hold a job, manage finances, steer clear of addictions, develop positive relationships, grow in parenting skills, and make healthy life choices, all in the context of community life. Both the families living and working together, and those supporting them, help build relationships that help this process of healing and growth.
We all encounter change on a regular basis. In our constantly and rapidly changing society, we cannot avoid it! Sometimes, the change we experience transforms our lives such that we can divide our life stories into “before” and “after” stages. Our goal is to foster that transformation in the lives of families during their stay at Community of Hope. Our mission is that the families that journey with us will see a change from homelessness and unstable finances and relationships into financially stable homes and families.
We all know that change is hard. It will not be completed in the time families are here. But they can make progress. With God’s strength, it is very possible! Studies show that transformational change is most likely to occur and be permanent with support in four ways.
First, it is essential to have an intense experience that demonstrates the need to change perspectives and opens up new possibilities. The families who join us will have already experienced something that brought them to homelessness and the place where they realize they need to change. They continue this in the intense living experience of our residential community.
Second, an ongoing learning experiences give information and tools to make the necessary changes in perspectives so they can build new habits. Classes that teach new skills, including spiritual growth (for those who want this support) and healing, will be integral to our program.
Not Going It Alone
Third, having a group of people go through the transformational experience together helps each individual give and receive mutual support to practice the new skills they are learning until they become habits. Knowing that they are not alone in the process is tremendously supportive. The residential community, living, working, and learning together, will provide part of the support network. Churches, families and individuals from the support community can also support residential community members with prayers for and friendships with residents as they grapple with the changes they need to make in order to achieve success.
Finally, regular contact with a mentor that provides individual guidance and accountability for each family completes the set of tools needed for success. Each parent will have a care mentor to help identify strengths and make plans outlining progress toward stable housing and family life.
Often, programs offer case management to their clients to assess needs, coordinate services, and implement care plans. Instead, the Community of Hope will offer Care Mentoring. Our mission is to care for people, not manage cases. We will still assess needs, make referrals, be cheerleaders, and offer support in making and attaining goals, but we will do it from a different perspective.
This relationship is based on the idea of personal responsibility and God given freedom. Unless residents desire to change and are willing to work at transforming their lives, they will not succeed. Therefore, anyone applying for acceptance into the Community of Hope must decide whether they are willing to learn, and then make a commitment to do so and to accept the help they need to accomplish their goals.
This will be an intense living situation in which residential community members can expect their lives to be transformed. It is challenging, but possible.
The Care Mentors will model their relationships with the people they are mentoring on the relationship God has with us. God never forces us to do anything, but invites us to change and grow, always keeping the big picture and end goal in mind. He gives us all the tools we need to embrace this growth. He knows this involves suffering and hard work, joining with us in our suffering and working with us as we are set free to be the people He created us to be.
Although the Care Mentors will walk with the residents in this process, providing guidance and encouragement and teaching new skills, the major work is done by the resident and by God. Each resident must decide to embrace change and to do the work. God will give the strength and wisdom to meet each family’s unique needs. Some may see God in their journey. Others may not think He is part of it. In our view, God loves and helps us all whether we know it or not. Parents will take the lead in discerning their own strengths and needs and build on their strengths to meet their needs.
All residents will be expected to take responsibility for caring for themselves. We will support them in learning the skills they need to grow in assuming responsibility for their lives. In order to help them achieve this responsibility, we will hold them accountable to keep their commitments, do their work, and make progress toward their goals.