Merry Christmas 2017

Child playing with Nativity set

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.

Thinking about how I could tell this story made me appreciate it at a depth that I have not felt before. I thought about how this little girl also had a mom who did not have a place to stay, and found one surrounded by those who love her. God forgives her, makes sure she is never alone, and saves her then things are hard. She is receiving gifts from people she has never met but know a child needs something special in this season. We believe that Jesus became a human being because our God wants to have a relationship with us and wants to share his love an a very practical, human level. This means that we get to see how he is doing that today through other people, both those of us who know God’s love and those who don’t know that it is God who is loving them through them.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us.

Linda Jo

How Do We Help?

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 like Charlotte, one of our staff, who love and support them. Our staff are  encouraging and help keep everyone safe by enforcing our rules.

Making sure families have a safe place to live leads to the second step: supporting parents in helping their children heal.

While they were here, Maggie continued to heal from her past trauma. She grew in confidence that she could care for herself and her children and learned this was much healthier than having an abusive partner in the home. She not only remained clean and sober, she began to use the skills and insights she was learning to help her children heal in the ways she had healed. She learned to see the needs of her children, set clear boundaries, and encourage a healthy interdependence instead of either over-protecting them or neglecting them.

As she grew, she could help her children grow. Carter began to learn that he could trust his mother to care for the family and not return to the abuse and drugs. Tara began to learn that she could trust her mother’s love even when she didn’t get everything she wanted and that her mom would listen to her and care for her. Through trauma recovery and parenting classes, weekly mentoring sessions, and the sharing of stories, struggles and ideas, parents heal from their trauma and learn to better parent their children, so they can continue to heal. Staff form the core of the individual support each family receives.

Families come into our lives here with no hope and even lower self-esteem due to traumatic experiences they have been through. I love that I can help empower them and help them to see the beauty inside themselves.

Charlotte, Hope House Staff Member

Community of Hope not only provides a safe place, we nurture healing and growth. Lives change. Stress hormones are replaced with laughter and joy and love. The transformation is not complete when they leave, but they have the skills and tools to continue their journey. Will you help make it possible for new families to heal and grow? Together, can we raise enough to increase staff wages to closer to a living wage? Do you want to be a part of changing lives? Give today! 

The Need (Part I)

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.

Our bodies were made to protect us when we are threatened. They produce stress hormones that give us the energy to run way, fight back, or hide. If we meet a bear in the woods, they help us survive and keep us safe. But when we experience them on an everyday level, like living with an abusive parent or never knowing where you will sleep tomorrow or next week, they become damaging. The stress hormones affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally. If a child has experienced four or more ACE’s, he or she or has much higher risk for significant adult health problems, drug use and criminal activity, and less chance to have healthy family relationships, good education, or job prospects.

At Community of Hope, we work to mitigate the consequences of repeated Adverse Childhood Experiences in the children as well as the adults. Our awesome staff is a huge part of this work.

I myself have been through hard times, one being homeless for a year. I can relate to our residents and this gives me a unique opportunity to give the residents understanding, compassion and most of all hope. Hope that with the right tools and support they can overcome the barriers that have led them to becoming homeless. I never would have thought I would be working at a homeless shelter, but working with these amazing people and with a great staff has shown me that God truly does have a plan for everyone. Community of Hope is God’s plan for me and I am blessed to be a part of such a great service and a source of hope for those who feel hopeless.

Darciea, Hope House Staff Member

Will you join Darciea to help us change lives, restore health, and give children a better future? Together, can we raise enough to increase staff wages to closer to a living wage? Give to Community of Hope today to help families like Maggie’s.

#givingtuesday Sneak Peek

All 3 Tease


Watch your mailboxes- soon we’ll be sending out our annual appeal, featuring the journey of Maggie and her family while they were residents of Hope House.  But before then, on Tuesday, November 28th head over to our Facebook page to get all the details on our Fill the Grid! $10,000 Matching Challenge. Also, are you considering becoming a monthly supporter in the coming year? When you make that commitment on December 10th, 20th, or 30th thanks to our generous matching donors we are able to not just match, but multiply your monthly amount 10X. Make the most of your gift-giving this holiday season and watch for ways to increase your giving power!

Maggie & kiddos

Meet Maggie*

Maggie is a happy, generous person who was a blessing to our household. Her cheerful smile reflects how far she has come.

Before she moved here, Maggie was involved in a domestic violence relationship. Her husband also got her involved in using drugs with him. On the surface, all seemed well, but her children were being neglected, her husband was verbally and emotionally abusing her and the children, and things began to fall apart. A call to Child Protective Services led to the kids being placed in foster care. Maggie, not believing she was being abused and not willing to quit using drugs, stayed with him a while longer until she had the courage to enter a residential drug program. There, she slowly realized how abusive the relationship was and that losing her kids was a natural consequence of the combination of drugs and abuse.

Toward the end of her time in the residential treatment program, Tara, her 8-year-old, returned to live with her. They moved into Hope House together. Maggie was grateful for the structure and accountability that she found here which was a step between the strict structure of the treatment facility and the freedom of having her own place. Here, she had the support structure and friendships she needed to transition to her next step.

Adjusting to being a parent again was challenging. Maggie moved from wanting to spoil Tara to learning to provide structure, set limits, teach her new self-care skills and give her responsibility for chores. She worked hard to share the skills she had learned in treatment and the trauma class here with her daughter so could also recover from the traumas of absent and drug-abusing parents, an abusive father and being put in foster care for months, away from those she knew and loved.

Carter, 12, initially visited his mother and sister. He had found stability and love with the foster family, and did not want to return to his mom. It took some time for him to see that she had changed, would not use drugs or go back to the abusive relationship, and that it was safe to return.

Maggie got help in parenting through classes and mentoring. She had the support of others who were sharing her journey in staying clean, parenting well, and moving toward finding a job and a place to live. It was not a smooth journey and it isn’t over, but Maggie, Carter, and Tara are a family again, in their own home, and building new family traditions.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.