INSPIRED IMPACT is an ongoing blog series that gives voice to social entrepreneurs and leaders of mission-driven organizations who are making an impact in their communities and industries.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Hope House of Colorado empowers parenting teenage moms to strive for personal and economic self-sufficiency and to understand their significance in God’s sight, resulting in a healthy future for them and for their children. Hope House is metro-Denver’s only resource providing free self-sufficiency programs to teen moms, including Residential, GED and College & Career Support services. Additional supportive services include Healthy Relationships and Parenting Programs, Early Learning, Life Skills workshops and certified counseling, all designed to prepare them for long-term independence. Most importantly, Hope House provides our teen moms a place to belong, a place to build relationships with staff, volunteers, and one another. We provide a community.
WHY DO YOU DO IT?
Hope House exists to empower teen moms to break the cycle of poverty that almost all of our teen moms experienced while growing up. Most of our girls grew up in homes marked by domestic violence, abuse, neglect, and homelessness. Our average teen mom dropped out of school in 9th grade; yet each one of our girls is determined to provide a better, more stable life for her child. We are passionate about providing our girls that opportunity.
WHAT IMPACT ARE YOU MAKING?
There are more than 3,000 babies born to teen mothers in the state of Colorado each year. Only half of these girls will graduate high school and fewer than 1% will earn a college degree. This means that teen moms generally end up in minimum wage jobs, a pay rate that would require working 110 hours a week just to get by!
This year Hope House will serve 200 teen moms from across metro-Denver. Our GED Program has an impressive 80% graduation rate, and 33% of our teen moms will earn a college certification or degree. Hope House measures self-sufficiency in six economic domains, such as education, career, and financial literacy. We also measure in 10 personal domains, such as parenting, progress planning, teachable spirit, and responsibility. Ninety percent of the graduates of our Residential Program, and 65% of the graduates from our Community Program, are completely self-sufficient within five years.
WHAT (OR WHO) INSPIRES YOU TO MAKE THIS IMPACT?
Having been a teen mom myself, I am passionate about giving our teen moms the chance to build a stable life for their little ones. Our girls face judgement everywhere they go. A simple trip to the grocery store prompts looks and unkind comments from other shoppers. This only fuels their fierce determination to beat the statistics. Chantia is one such mom. She grew up in poverty, and was often abused by her alcoholic mom. She struggled in school and was bullied by other students, and even a teacher, who told her she was too dumb to ever finish school. Chantia dropped out in the 8th grade, and soon after that she ran away from home, trying to escape the abuse. She ended up sleeping behind a dumpster, until she was picked up by the police and placed in foster care. At 16 she became pregnant, and she vowed to build a better life for her son. She found our GED Program, and received one-on-one instruction and tutoring. She thrived on our encouragement, and began to replace the ugly voices in her head with positive praise from Hope House staff and volunteers. She earned her GED and went on to college, where she landed on the Dean’s list! Today, Chantia is in a healthy marriage, her son is thriving in 1st grade, she is active in her church, and she volunteers at Hope House. Chantia, like all of our girls, has overcome tremendous odds. They are my heroes!
WHAT’S YOUR BIG DREAM FOR THE ORGANIZATION AND THE IMPACT YOU WANT TO MAKE?
Hope House recently completed a $3.5 million capital campaign and began building a 15,000 square foot Resource Center on the two acres of land surrounding our Residential program. In 2020 we will begin building an Early Learning Center on our growing campus in Arvada, CO. In the next few years we will triple the number of teen moms we serve! Our big dream is to build a model that others can utilize, and to see the lives of teen moms transformed across the country.
WHAT RESOURCES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE THOSE DREAMS COME TRUE?
When we move into our new Resource Center in late 2018 we will need to double the number of volunteers who come alongside us to serve our teen moms. We will need more business partners willing to provide services such as car repair, dental care, childcare, eye care, and so much more. We will need teams of people to prepare meals in our new commercial kitchen (sometimes the only meal our girls get is at Hope House!). As we serve more girls, we will need to raise more money, and one of the primary ways people can champion our girls is to become a monthly donor at any amount.
WHAT IS (OR HAS BEEN) YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE?
One of our biggest challenges is to help our teen moms to find affordable housing. The housing market in Denver is crazy, and too many of our girls are remaining in unsafe living situations because they simply can’t afford to live on their own. Our second challenge is to help our girls find childcare, especially if they are in college, because the Colorado Childcare Assistance Program (CCCAP) often won’t cover childcare while a mom is in college.
WHAT WORDS OF ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER LEADERS LOOKING TO MAKE AN IMPACT?
Never give up! Surround yourself with people who not only bring their talents and gifts, but an infectious enthusiasm for your cause!
HOW CAN OTHERS SUPPORT YOU OR YOUR CAUSE?
Come see us! Visit our website and schedule a tour, or come to a volunteer orientation, or become a Bedrock Builder (monthly donor). Become a part of our amazing community!
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