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Our Raise Hope 2018 Gala was a huge success. We surpassed our goal of $60,000 to raise over $70,000. This will allow us to not only support families in healing and growth, but also provide more support in finding housing in this tight housing market.
Stephen Dilworth and Ali Craven worked as a team to MC our event. Lindsay Jensen, the Executive Director of the St. Johns Center of Opportunity shared some troubling statistics demonstrating the lack of affordable housing in our community and the great need the families here face. Libra Forde, Chief Operating Officer of Self Enhancement Inc. shared her story and the importance of having support in finding a home.
Impacting families’ lives is our job at Community of Hope. We want them to both heal from past trauma and to find safe and stable homes. How can we tell if we have been successful? How do we know if parents or children have made any progress?
Seeing if residents continue to not retraumatize is easy. Maggie is clean and has the tools to stay clean. She is not returning to the abusive relationship she had in the past. She now has a stable place to live and the income to pay the bills. Over 75% of the families who complete our program move into a safe place.
Measuring if residents grew and healed is a bit more subjective.
This week, a woman donated a Fisher Price Nativity set to Community of Hope. She shared it with the children who have a home to live in this Christmas instead of being homeless. One of the moms told me that her daughter thought it was animals in a barn. She was right of course. But it is so much more. I started thinking about how I could tell this little girl the story of Christmas. It is just a story of a family who traveled to a different town and couldn’t find a place to live, so they stayed with the animals in the barn and happened to have a baby that night. Just a nice story. But then the strange stuff starts happening. Shepherd see angels (How do you explain what they are?) They come to visit this family with the story of what the angels said, that this child was the Savior. And what does that mean? How can I tell her about how God loves us so much that He choose to be one of us? How do you explain to a 4-year-old that Jesus wants to forgive us and set us free? Next, I would have to explain that the camel is not a cow, and that important people somehow knew this child was special, even worth traveling a long way to come to see him and bringing strange gifts.
Adverse Childhood experiences impact all the families at Community of Hope. Our job is to help parents and children heal while they are here.
When Maggie’s family moved into Hope House, they had their own room and knew they could stay there for a while. Maggie was no longer in an abusive relationship and was not using drugs. Her children were reunited with her.
That’s the first step: making sure the children are not continuing to be traumatized. At Community of Hope, we are drug and alcohol free, we have no tolerance for physical or verbal abuse, and families have a safe place to stay for a while. They are surrounded by people who love and support them. Our staff are supportive, encouraging, and help keep everyone safe by enforcing our rules.
Making sure families have a safe place to live leads to the second step:
As a child, have you ever had something happen to you that caused you to be very upset? Did you see people you love get hurt? Did you ever feel like you were being attacked and there was no one to help you? Have you felt like it was you alone against the world? Most people in the world have had an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE). The most common are extreme physical danger, experiencing or witnessing abuse, experiencing or witnessing drug use especially among caregivers, neglect, homelessness, and bullying. Maggie’s children experienced living with an abusive father, living with parents using drugs and not caring for them well, separation from their parents while in foster care, and the stress of homelessness.