Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!! 2011 is just two days away, and we are gearing up for it to be a great year.

We are so excited to be planning our grand opening for the new therapy building and for all of the renovations and changes that have happened on the Independence campus. It is a beautiful, calming atmosphere; a perfect environment for healing to take place.

We continue to be forward thinking in our plans for this year. We will continue to enhance our programming through grants that we have received. It is so exciting to be able to hire back staff and enhance the quality of our programming. We have been operating at lower staffing levels but continuing to have increased demand. This can take a toll on the staff, to be able to provide relief for them is such a thrill.

Last year we turned away more than we served in shelter; hopefully this year will be different. We will continue to offer services to as many as we can through all of our programming and minimize the numbers who are turned away. We will continue to advocate at the state and national level to make sure that the needs of those impacted by domestic violence are heard and addressed.

We remain positive that our work is making a difference in the lives of women and children. I heard from a former resident not too long ago who said, “Hope House saved me.” I said, “No, you saved yourself. We just helped.” I plan to continue to offer services that help women in their journey to reclaim themselves and move on to lives free of abuse.

I hope you will stay with me on this journey as we see what 2011 brings for us.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Holiday Hope

I know that it can sound cliché but I really do hope for world peace; that we can someday find ourselves living in harmony and no one is afraid in their own home and of their life partner.

It is always at this time of year that this wish seems to be most prominent in my mind; the holidays seem to bring this out in me. I know that we have made great strides and have come so far in breaking the cycle of domestic violence, so I am celebrating that today.

We are that much closer and many more people have joined us in our efforts so I will take that with me and allow that to nourish, energize and motivate me to continue my part in this work.

Thank you for joining me in this effort. Thank you for all you do in making our world one step closer to being free of domestic violence.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. Wishing you peace and happiness.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Celebrating Traditions

It is that time of year and everyone is gearing up for the holidays. Our clients have many different traditions this time of year. We work hard to make sure that everyone’s traditions are honored, and they are given the opportunity to celebrate.

We work with clients from all faiths and each has its own unique traditions. We have a committee that works on ensuring the environment at Hope House is representative of who the clients are, and where they come from. At this time of year, we typically celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa.

We are working to educate ourselves on the many other holidays that occur during this season, as well as throughout the year. We welcome information on traditions of which we may not be aware.

Our goal is to be a safe place for people to come and be themselves, and to give them the opportunity to carry on their traditions, or create new ones. We do not have a script of what they should or shouldn’t do, but celebrate with them in the way that makes them most comfortable.

It is a great opportunity for us to learn new beliefs and learn of the experiences our clients have had that have helped shape who they are today. What a gift to be able to do that with our clients and grow with them.

We are looking forward to this most celebrated season and sharing in our clients’ joy of the season - whatever that looks like for them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

End the Silence on Domestic Violence

If you haven’t been watching Dr. Phil (on ABC) the past couple of months you may have missed his very exciting announcement about his partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and his new initiative called End the Silence on Domestic Violence. He launched a season long campaign to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence.

His shows have addressed the many aspects of domestic violence: red flags to look for, teen dating violence and the danger when leaving an abusive relationship. His attention to this topic is encouraging and brings much hope to those of us in the field.

It is so helpful to have a national celebrity talking about the issue, bringing it to the forefront and allowing it to be discussed openly. It is a legitimate topic to address and I appreciate his attention.

I am so pleased that Sue Else with NNEDV has partnered with Dr. Phil as she understands this issue like no other. She worked at Hope House for 18 years and is always bringing the issue to the forefront. Her efforts in this are greatly appreciated.

Many lives will be impacted by the discussions that have taken place and will take place over the course of the season. It is so helpful to have those with such a large audience talking about the issue, raising the awareness and directing people to the available resources.

Hope House will be here offering the services to those in need and helping Dr. Phil and NNEDV end the silence. For more information on Dr. Phil’s efforts, visit his website. For Hope House resources, please visit

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Holiday Store

Struggling through leaving a relationship and working through the painful issue of domestic violence is never easy, but it can be especially difficult at the holiday times.

We provide a Holiday Store at each of our locations so that both shelter and outreach clients are able to “shop” for gifts for their children and children get to “shop” for their mom. This is a great way for the moms to make the holiday special for their children, even if it is different from their past celebrations.

We help both the moms and the kids work through the difficulties and begin the healing process, and encourage them to take a moment to have fun and not worry about all of the stressors in their lives. If we can help make the holiday special, and make them feel like life is back to “normal”, then we have accomplished a lot.

Creating new traditions and new beginnings is a wonderful way to celebrate the season. So if you are looking for ways to get involved this holiday season, think of Hope House and the clients we serve. We would love to have you help us in giving our clients the special holiday season they so deserve.  

For ideas on how to help, visit our website (click on Ways to Give, then Donate Items) or call 816-461-4188, ext. 0 and ask for our holiday wish list. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving

We have so much to be thankful for at Hope House and it is always good to pause and to give thanks for all that we have. We are blessed to have so many friends and supporters of our agency. Without all of you we would not be where we are today.

I am so grateful for the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board and the staff that works so hard every day to provide quality services to those who have been impacted by domestic violence.

I am grateful to all of the people that have challenged us to do better and who have supported us on our journey. I’m especially thankful to Barbara Potts who had the vision and the courage to start this agency in 1983. She and a group of dedicated individuals still support us today, offering their guidance and encouragement.

So, as you all reflect on your blessings and what you are thankful for, remember that you have made a difference for Hope House. We are able to do what we do because of you, and for that we are grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Guardian Program

In domestic violence situations, visitation and exchange of children is a very dangerous time. Knowing that the custodial parent is obligated to honor the court order allowing visitation, the abuser often uses the opportunity to continue to stalk, abuse and to terrorize the victim/custodial parent.

Knowing this, Hope House started the Guardian Program in November of 2002. Our program is designed so that visits and exchanges are safe for everyone. The custodial and the non-custodial parents arrive separately, park in separate parking lots, and leave at different times so that there can be no opportunity for abuse or stalking to occur.

The program consists of a Program Coordinator, therapists, and an off-duty police officer who is there to ensure everyone’s safety.

The program has three components:

1) The exchange of children when there is no court order for supervised visits. This most often occurs Wednesday evenings, and/or Friday evenings for weekend visits with the kids returning on Sunday. In exchanges the children are taken from the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent by the staff person; the parents never interact.

2) When the court has ordered the visits to be supervised, the program is able to offer two levels of supervised visits.

     a. The first is less intensive and can be offered in a group setting with other families.

     b. In more severe situations, a judge may order that the non-custodial parent can’t be around any other children. In those situations, the visit would be limited to just the one family.

The Guardian Program has offered safety, support and hope to hundreds of children as they visit with their non-custodial parent. It gives them the opportunity to begin the healing process, and if they desire, to rebuild a relationship with the offending parent; the choice is theirs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kids' Birthdays in Shelter

Photograph from
Do you remember what it was like to celebrate your birthday as a child? For some of us there was anticipation of presents; perhaps a party with balloons, streamers and party hats. Of course there was a cake with candles and ice cream, and friends and family taking pictures and singing Happy Birthday.

I believe birthdays are a precious thing and need to be celebrated to the fullest. It is your special day and for 24 hours you get to be reminded of just how wonderful you are.

At Hope House we work very hard to ensure that everyone realizes just how special they are every day, but especially on their birthdays. With the help and generosity of our donors, we have new toys and gifts available so Moms can pick out the perfect presents and wrap them for their birthday child. Kids are able to do the same thing for their moms who are celebrating their special day.

We had a donor that loved birthdays and always made them very special for her children. When she passed, her children set up a fund in her name that is to be used to purchase birthday cakes for kids who are in shelter. This allows these kids the opportunity to blow out the candles on a decorated cake, and have a group of people sing a rousing “Happy Birthday to You”. They get to have a very special moment that is theirs alone.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Metropolitan Family Violence Coalition

One of the great things about being a domestic violence service provider in the Kansas City metro area is being a part of the Metropolitan Family Violence Coalition (MFVC). MFVC is composed of the six domestic violence agencies in the metro area, both in Missouri and Kansas.

All six of the agencies provide domestic violence services, emergency shelter, advocacy, and court advocacy, and all participate in the operation of the shared metro hotline (816-HOTLINE). The hotline is a critical tool for those who are in need to reach a safe and understanding person to talk to about their situation whether they are in immediate crisis or just need someone to listen.

The hotline is shared in order to provide one phone number for people in need to call, so victims do not have to remember six phone numbers in the time of crisis.

In addition to the hotline, the MFVC also offers the BridgeSPAN program which is a comprehensive hospital-based advocacy program. There are over 36 hospitals in the metro area partnering with the DV agencies to offer advocacy and crisis intervention to those patients identified in the hospital as needing services.

The agencies that comprise the MFVC are committed to meeting the needs of those impacted by domestic violence and working in collaboration to best meet those needs. Our goal is to work together, not in competition with each other. Our challenges are often the same so we can share what has worked and what hasn’t, support each other in our struggles and celebrate with each other in our successes.

We strive to not duplicate services but to offer a comprehensive range of services so that no matter where a person is in the metro, one of the agencies will be able to help meet the need.

I feel so fortunate that there are six very committed and dedicated agencies providing a seamless safety net of services to victims in this area. I have been to other areas and it doesn’t appear there is such a comprehensive collaboration working for victims.

It is our hope that someday we can celebrate the end of violence in our community. Until then, we will continue our commitment to provide quality and comprehensive services to those impacted by domestic violence and we will do it together as a group.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

This photo is a representation only.  It is not an actual client.
Today’s guest blogger is Janet Howard, a therapist at Hope House.

I have been a therapist at Hope House for eight years. About three years ago I discovered the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). In EFT, we use our fingertips and tap on specific meridian points to realign the body’s natural energy centers. This allows the memory to be healed, and the body’s energy to be realigned.

I know it sounds fantastic and something right out of a sci-fi movie, but believe me, if done correctly, healing from painful memories occurs in a matter of minutes.

Free from the emotional pain of the memory, the client can then reorganize their thought processes and move on with their life. Such was the case with Patty*. The first time I met Patty, she appeared to be afraid of taking up too much space. She sat in an almost fetal position.

She avoided eye contact and spoke so softly that I could barely hear her. She fidgeted with her fingers. Her fingernails were so short from biting them that they had scabs. Her eyes were lifeless. Her complexion was pasty, probably due to her latest overdose of medications.

She had been in psychological services since pre-adolescence, and had experienced domestic violence her whole life. Her hospitalizations for suicidal attempts were a normal part of her life. She practiced every type of self destructive behaviors I had ever known. Although she had spent years in therapy, she had never found lasting relief from her painful memories, or self destructive behaviors. She wanted to try EFT.

Over the following months we journeyed through her past and present, putting away old misery, pain, and fear-based ideas. Patty learned new healthy coping skills, and practiced EFT daily. She worked very hard to change, and save, her life.

Several months ago, as Patty sat in my office, we discussed how much she had changed her life. She had confidence and self love. She sat up straight, and had direct eye contact. Her eyes were clear and bright - full of promise and hope. She spoke with assurance and calm certainty. She could face life head on without fear.

She had outgrown her need for therapy in her life. She was enrolled in college, lived in her own apartment, and had a supportive group of friends. She had a future. She had a life.

*names have been changed

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Completion of Our Capital Campaign

In December 2009 the Kresge Foundation granted Hope House a $600,000 challenge grant for our Building Hope capital campaign for the construction and renovations to the Independence campus. To qualify for the gift, we had to complete the remaining fundraising for the campaign within one year.

We’re excited to announce that we have successfully satisfied the conditions of the Kresge challenge. This means that we have successfully raised $5,000,000 for our capital campaign and have completed the fundraising portion of the campaign!

The construction on the campus is well underway with the shelter and daycare renovations already completed. Work is underway in the Court and Legal Services Building as well as the Community Partnership Building. The new Therapy building (shown above) has the walls and roof in place so work will not be interrupted with any inclement weather.

Work is progressing along very well and we should be completed with all aspects of the campaign by spring of 2011. We will have a ribbon cutting and grand opening once the work is completed and weather is suitable for an outside gathering.

We are so appreciative of all of the support that we have received from the community that has allowed us to make these improvements so we can continue to provide quality services to our clients.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Demand is Rising

On September 15th Hope House once again took part in the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Census. This is an annual count of adults and children who seek services from U.S. domestic violence shelter programs during a single 24-hour survey period.

In that same 24-hour period last year, the results showed us that Missouri programs:

  • served 2,033 victims.
  • provided 1,238 victims emergency shelters or transitional housing.
  • provided 795 adults and children non-residential assistance and services such as counselling and legal advocacy.
  • answered 515 hotline calls.
  • educated 1,410 people in prevention trainings.
  • turned away 416 requests for service. 
While the number served is truly amazing, in the entirety of 2009 Missouri programs had to turn away more people than they served due to lack of funding/lack of staff.

I suspect that when the numbers for the 2010 census are released in a few months the picture will be worse.  I am anticipating that we will see more turned away, more numbers served, and a greater demand for services.

Hopefully soon we will see a trend in the opposite direction that will find providers with enough funding to increase their capacity to meet the growing need.

If you want to learn more about the census and what is happening across the country, visit the NNEDV website at and click on projects. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month is an opportunity for programs that work with the issue of domestic violence to celebrate those who have survived, mourn those who have died, and increase the awareness of the issue.

It continues to amaze and sadden me that there are people in Eastern Jackson County who have not heard about Hope House and are not aware that the largest provider of domestic violence services in the state of Missouri is located within their community.

We still have a lot of work to do to make sure that everyone who is in need knows we’re here for them. This month is an opportunity for us to spread the word about what we’re doing and engage people in helping to stop the violence.

We’ll spend time at community events and health fairs, and with service organizations and businesses who give us the opportunity to talk about domestic violence and what we are doing to break the cycle.

If you have an opportunity to wear purple during the month of October to show your support of those who have been impacted by domestic violence, please do so. If you would like someone to speak to your group about domestic violence, let us know and we’ll be happy to be there.

As we raise awareness this month, we look forward to the day that we no longer lose a life due to domestic violence.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

We are celebrating the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA). It is a federal law that was first signed by President Clinton on September13, 1994. VAWA was reauthorized by Congress in 2000, and again in December 2005. It is up for reauthorization in 2011.

VAWA was developed as a result of concerned groups of prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates and the courts coming together and urging Congress to adopt legislation that would address the issue of domestic violence. Since it originally passed in 1994, the focus has expanded from domestic violence to include dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The intent of VAWA is to improve the way communities work together to address the issue of domestic violence. It was adopted to combine new penalties to prosecute offenders while also implementing programs to address the victim’s needs.

By requiring a coordinated community response (CCR), VAWA makes communities talk to each other and work together to ensure there is a safety net of services provided for victims and a coordinated response to the perpetrator.

This CCR is actually one of the greatest successes of VAWA. This type of collaboration didn’t exist before and the needs of the victims of domestic violence were not being addressed as quickly and efficiently as they are now.

We have always known that domestic violence is not a family issue. It is a community issue and it takes the entire community working together to really make a difference in the lives of those impacted by domestic violence. Thank you to our members of Congress who continue to understand and support the needs of victims by the continued passage and support of VAWA. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Howlin' for Hope

We have all kinds of events every year to raise funds to support Hope House services, but Howlin’ for Hope is probably the most fun. We’ll spend the afternoon at Howl at the Moon in the Power & Light District, and be wowed by “the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Dueling Piano Show.”

Howl at the Moon is a total entertainment experience where the piano players and staff not only entertain the guests - the guests become part of the show. This totally fun event will have you singing and dancing with everyone in the room. We’ll also have a live auction.

The fun starts at 3PM on Sunday, October 3 (no Chiefs’ game that day!) and goes until 6PM. Tickets are $25 and include 2 drink tickets. Visit our website to purchase tickets in advance, because this event sells out ever year!

You must be 21 years or older to attend this event. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


United Way kicked off its fundraising campaign on September 8 at the Westin Crown Center. It is now campaign time for companies and partnering United Way agencies. UW is working hard to make sure that agencies have the resources available to provide the critical services being offered in our area. Hope House is proud to be a partner agency with United Way and will work hard to ensure that the campaign is successful.

Hope House receives approximately 6% of our budget from United Way. This is through the allocation process and from those donors that designate their giving to our agency. It is imperative that the campaign is successful so that agencies like Hope House can continue to receive the crucial funding for our programs.

United Way has gone through many changes over the past couple of years and is truly committed to making change happen in our community. The changes have been positive and thoughtful and will positively impact our community.

If you work for a company that does a United Way campaign, congratulations - you are making a difference. If you are not, please consider starting a workplace campaign.  United Way makes it easy, and agencies like Hope House are available to visit your workplace and present information about our programs and what being a partner with United Way means for our agency. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Safe Family Coalition

Domestic violence and child abuse often occur together. Before 2001 there were many agencies that addressed each of these problems as separate issues. At times, these agencies seemed to work against each other, potentially putting women and children in greater danger of harm.

To address this problem, the Jackson County Safe Family Coalition (SFC) was formed. Their mission is to provide a coordinated community response to child abuse and domestic violence that will provide safety, enhance well-being, and provide stability for children and families.

SFC is made up of the many agencies that are involved when domestic violence and child abuse occur together:

• child protection workers
• adult and family courts
• county and city prosecutors
• judges
• domestic violence shelters
• law enforcement
• probation and parole
• social workers
• mental health services providers

SFC has challenged all of the participating agencies to look at our systems and change operations with the SFC mission as a guide. The best way to keep children safe is to keep the non-offending parent safe. This is accomplished by:

• Holding the perpetrator accountable for their actions.
• Providing meaningful help, support, and services for families who are experiencing child abuse and domestic violence.
• Providing legal interventions and services that stop violence and abuse.

SFC has committed to educate agencies and their staffs about resources that are available when they recognize cases of domestic violence with child abuse. SFC also seeks to engage the community by creating awareness about the need to provide a comprehensive array of services that will respond to the unique strengths and concerns of families.

Hope House has been a proud partner of this coalition and will continue coming to the table to keep children and the non-offending parent safe. We are very grateful that so many partners have joined us to make a difference in our communities.

For more information about the Safe Family Coalition, please visit their website

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Survivor Treatment Group

Hope House offers a 12 week Survivor Treatment Group to battered women who are out of their abusive relationships for at least three months and attempting to put their lives back together. 

Abusers’ tactics of verbal and emotional abuse reinforce a negative perception of self. The victim begins to see herself as her abuser defines her. She loses her self-identity. The focus of the Survivor Treatment Group is the recovery of a sense of self. We help the client to define her own beliefs, validate her own feelings and develop a healthy regard for her self worth. This allows the client to transform herself from victim to survivor to thriver.

There are five topics addressed with two weeks devoted to each topic. Participants explore issues in their own lives relating to the topic discussed.

Week 1: “I’m Okay, You’re Okay.” A look at power and control in abusive relationships.  Why does it happen? How does it happen?

Week 3: “How Did this Happen to Me?” A look at our own personalities. Where did we get our life ‘tapes’? How did my ‘tapes’ allow me to remain in an abusive relationship?

Week 5: “Whose Fence is this Anyway?”  Establishing healthy boundaries. A look at what boundaries really are and what role they play in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Week 7: “The Secret to it All – Loving Myself.” A look at self-esteem. How do I get there? Tools to help me stop beating myself up.

Week 9: “Letting the World Know I Love Myself.” A look at assertiveness and tools for healthy communication.

Week 11: “Putting it all Together – Letting it all Go.” Putting all the previous information together to let go of the past and start over with power in the present moment.

To get more information about joining this group, call our hotline at 816-461-HOPE (4673).

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Successful Hope & All That Jazz

Hope and All That Jazz took place on Saturday night at the Muehlebach Hotel. It was a huge achievement, bringing in around $327,000 that will help fund vital programs that help women and children affected by domestic violence.

It was a wonderful evening with people filling the hallways and the ballroom to support Hope House. The silent and live auctions were fantastic. We had a committee that worked extremely hard on securing new and interesting items that were a hit with our guests.

We were fortunate to have Mary Hunter share her story of the road to recovery that took place in her family after her daughter was a victim of domestic violence. She shared how difficult it was to believe that it could happen to her family - a family that was full of love and self esteem and “ordinary” in so many ways - not one that could be impacted by domestic violence.

What she learned through her process is that domestic violence can happen to anyone, including her daughter. How wonderful to hear such an uplifting story and know that Hope House services made a difference in the lives of Mary’s family.

I am grateful for all of the hard work of our co-chairs, Bill and Liz Downey, and Chuck and Susie Caisley. They worked so hard to secure sponsors and to introduce Hope House to new people who have become our friends. We couldn’t have done it without them or our Board of Directors.

My thanks to everyone who had a hand in making this event such a huge success.

Please mark your calendars for next year, August 20th, for another wonderful Hope and All That Jazz. We would love to see you there.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Hope House BridgeSPAN Program

Health care providers are in a unique position to help victims of abuse if they know how to detect domestic violence (DV) and provide victims with referrals and support.  It only makes sense, then, to reach out to survivors in area hospitals. This is what the Hope House BridgeSPAN Program aims to do. 

Through the BridgeSPAN program, Hope House and other area DV programs provide a coordinated effort to address DV as a serious healthcare issue in 46 hospitals and clinics throughout the Kansas City metro area. BridgeSPAN offers patients with on-site advocacy including support, safety planning, and access to ongoing DV services including those for mental health. It also offers training for medical personnel, and protocol development and maintenance.

Recently, our BridgeSPAN Coordinator provided training to new employees of a local hospital about how to screen patients for DV and what resources to offer when patients screen positive for abuse. Later that evening, a nurse who went through the training called the hotline to obtain services for herself. She had been in an abusive marriage for several years and had never reached out for help. 

The nurse told the hotline operator that after hearing the trainer talk about what DV entails and what survivors go through, she suddenly realized that the trainer was describing her own life. That nurse was able to speak with the hotline operator about a plan for leaving her abusive relationship and she entered services shortly after.  

(Photo credit: Aaron Lindberg)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hope & All That Jazz - August 21

Would you like to stay in a fully furnished villa for 7 days in Hawaii, or enjoy Carrie Underwood in luxury with 16 tickets in the KCP&L Sprint Center suite?

Well, our largest fundraiser of the year is just around the corner (Saturday, August 21) and those items will be available at the event in the live auction. This event is so much fun and so important to our mission. We are expecting over 600 people at this event where we will have dinner and enjoy the silent and live auction.

Take a sneak peek at some of the auction items we’ll have available by checking out our Auction Flipbook.

We'll have so many other wonderful items too, including jewelry, children’s items, artwork, wine and many, many other beautiful things to bid on. It is so much fun to watch the guests get into bidding wars with each other over their favorite items!

The funds raised from this event support our daily operations, allowing us to provide life-saving and critical services to over 10,000 people every year who are impacted by domestic violence.

This year we will move across the street to the Muehlebach Hotel. I know that the new venue will be perfect and the evening will be a success. We are still taking reservations, so if you don't have your tickets yet, it isn’t too late. You can purchase tickets at our website, or call Libby at 816-257-9334.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Construction Update

The Hope House Independence campus is full of activity with construction happening all around us. The renovation to the living area of shelter is complete and the clients have moved back in. The transformation is amazing.

The meeting space for intakes is now private and we have room for the children to play separate from mom but yet still visible through a glass wall. The little ones won’t have to be exposed to the questions and the responses but will still feel safe since mom is right there in their sight. There is expanded storage and a better flowing work space for the staff.

The daycare playground will be the next project started. We will expand the playground to have a separate space for the really young kids to be able to play and crawl around without worry about the bigger kids tripping over them. We will be installing a new playground structure and a trike trail for the little ones to ride their bikes in a safe enclosed space.

Work will continue on the new Therapy building with the anticipated completion date at the beginning of 2011.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our capital campaign that has allowed this work to happen. It is a gift that we are extremely grateful for and will treasure always. We are committed to providing quality services to those in need and the work in this campaign will assist us in doing that in an environment that lends itself to the healing process.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Advocacy Days in Washington D.C.

I recently had the privilege to participate in the annual Advocacy Days sponsored by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) in Washington, D.C.

NNEDV organizes this annual event to educate advocates on new legislation and the needs across the country. We then carry a common message to Capitol Hill when we meet with our elected officials.

Our message was simple: programs are in dire need. More money is needed to meet the ever increasing needs of those impacted by domestic violence. People are being hurt and killed every day and we must do something to help those programs that are working with the survivors.

In Missouri, more women were turned away than were served last year. For every two women served, three were turned away. The demand for services is increasing and the resources to serve them are decreasing. We shared many stories and the frustration of not being able to do more to help those in need.

There was much discussion about how we can increase the money in such a very tight economy, when so many are suffering. This fact is clearly understood by those of us working with survivors. Thanks to NNEDV’s work, we were able to clearly talk about strategies and ways that this can be done.

I left D.C. with appreciation for the hard decisions that our elected officials have to make every day in prioritizing needs. I hope that we will be able to have the necessary resources to do our work and to help the thousands of people that are impacted by domestic violence every year.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My Lilith Fair Experience

Sarah McLachlan presents MaryAnne
Metheny with a $4000 check.

I was lucky enough to represent Hope House at the Lilith Fair last week at the Capital Federal Park at Sandstone. 

As we’ve discussed in recent blogs, $1 from every ticket sold to the Kansas City Lilith Fair as given Hope House, who was chosen through a Choose Your Charity contest on Facebook. We received $4,000 to help us in our mission to break the cycle of domestic violence.

See our Lilith Fair pictures here.

Lilith Fair and its organizer Sarah McLachlan have been receiving negative publicity and questions regarding the necessity of Lilith Fair and if it makes sense to do it again after such a long hiatus.

Times have changed since the last Lilith Fair but does that mean it shouldn’t happen again? Yes, ticket sales are down and some tour sites have had to be cancelled, but that is happening to all concerts, unfortunately. I wish the economy was better and that people had more disposable income that they could use for entertainment such as the Lilith Fair.

It was an incredible experience and I feel sad that more people were not there to take part in it. Everyone else missed out on an amazing experience and remarkable music. In an interview on NPR, Sarah McLachlan said “it is not about ticket sales, it's about the experience of Lilith — about artists getting together to make this world a better place.”

In the same interview Sarah said, "that's one of my greatest passions: women and children. Anybody who doesn't have their own voice, or doesn't know how to reach out and have their own voice and help themselves in a bad situation. And, yes, there's a lot of horrible things going on all over the world, but as individuals, I think we all have to focus on our own gifts and our own values and bring those forth to the world the best we can.”

How perfect for Hope House to be the recipient of funds from an organization with such passion and concern for women and children. I have always felt that the mission of Hope House is to help women find their voice after it has been lost or taken away. How inspiring that Sarah feels the same way and through her advocacy and her willingness to work hard, she has helped us to do that.

I appreciate her focusing her gift of music to help others and feel incredibly fortunate that we were chosen to be Lilith’s charity. It was a wonderful experience and I would say to the naysayers: go to the concert, enjoy and don’t inject negativity into a group of people who are trying to make a difference in our world.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lilith Fair Helps Hope House

Our guest blogger this week is Lee Marlin, Director of Marketing for Hope House.

Don’t you need a vacation day? I suggest taking off Thursday of this week (7/15) and spending the day celebrating women in music at the Lilith Fair Tour at Capital Federal Park at Sandstone. 

The show starts at 2:30pm and goes til 11pm. If you can’t take the day off, go after work; there’ll still be a lot of amazing music waiting for you.

Hope House was chosen as the winner of Lilith’s Choose Your Charity promotion. That means Hope House will receive $1 for every ticket purchased. Sandstone has a capacity of 18,000. My mind boggles when I think of what Hope House could do with $18,000! We’re sure hoping for a sell-out! Get your tickets now at

A few of the acts at the Kansas City stop include Sarah McLachlan, Heart, Emmylou Harris, Courtyard Hounds (2/3 of the Dixie Chicks), and locals Sara Swenson and Julia Othmer.

Lilith organizer Sarah McLachlan will be on-hand to perform, and to present the check to Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny. How exciting is that?!

The purchase of one ticket can support Hope House and women in music (and get you out of the office with a chance to work on your tan)… it’s a no-brainer. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Feeding 104 People 3 Meals A Day

This week's guest blogger is Hope House Director of Marketing, Lee Marlin.

Hope House operates on an extremely small food budget: $17,000 a year. That number sounds like a lot when you look at your own personal budget, but let’s break it down. We feed 104 people 3 meals per day, every day of the year. So that breaks down to $46.58 per day, or 45¢ per person, or 15¢ per meal.

I’m pretty tight with a penny, but I can’t even buy Ramen noodles for 15¢! So how does Hope House do it?

We are fortunate to have concerned and caring individuals, businesses and organizations in our communities that help us.

  1. They organize food drives at work or church.
  2. They buy a few extra fruit or veggies for us at the farmers market.
  3. They attend state or county fairs, buy livestock and donate it to us.
Upcoming state and county fairs in the area include:

In Missouri:
  1. Cass County Fair in Pleasant Hill - July 13 – 18
  2. Johnson County Fair in Warrensburg – July 5 – 10
  3. Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, August 12 – 22
  4. American Royal, October 2010
 In Kansas:
  1. Wyandotte County Fair in Kansas City, July 27 – 31
  2. Johnson County Fair in Gardner, August 2 – 7
  3. Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, September 10 – 19
Every little bit helps. If you have excess fruits and veggies from your own garden, we’re happy to take them off your hands. Fresh produce is a wonderful treat for our clients. Even two home-grown tomatoes could cause considerable excitement in our kitchens!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Theraplay - Enhancing the Bond Between Mother and Child

This week’s guest blogger is Thada Pulliam, one of Hope House’s Child Therapists.

When women arrive at Hope House with their children, there is often a disconnect between them. Mom may have been distancing herself from her child in order to keep her abuser's attention off the child and focused on her.

One of our goals when working with our clients is to enhance attachment, trust, self-esteem and joyful engagement between a mom and her child. To accomplish this, we use Theraplay.

Theraplay is a structured play therapy that focuses on attachment and relationship development.

Theraplay treatment can involve:

• Structured activities such as 1) the 3-legged race where the mom is providing direction; 2) mom directing the child to copy her eye or hand movements.

• Engaging activities:  1) the child hides a cotton ball within their clothes and mom must find it; 2) hand games such as creating a special hand shake, or playing patty cake.

• Nurturing activities:  1) mom checks the hands, arms, legs and feet for hurts, and then applies lotion with soft strokes while singing a lullaby; 2) while applying lotion to feet, mom recites “this little piggy”.

• Challenge activities: 1) mom places an item such as a book or pillow on the child for the child to balance; 2) thumb wrestling.

As a result of these activities, we hope to re-establish a sense of specialness, togetherness and fun between mom and her child.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How You Can Help

When I meet people and they learn I work at Hope House, often the first question asked is “what do you need and how can I help?”

The simple answer is:  there are so many ways! The following list is not exhaustive by any means, but are ideas to get you started.

• Make a donation to Hope House and utilize the tax credits that we have available. Money is our largest and most pressing need.
• Volunteer – help us in the office, with clients, or with special events.
• Organize a drive to replenish our daily living items for 104 in-shelter clients such as paper goods, toiletries, food.
• Collect cell phones and toner cartridges that we can recycle for cash.
• Invite us to your next group meeting so we can let people know about our services and how they can get involved.
• Come for a tour and learn more about what we do and generate interest amongst co-workers and family members.
• Sponsor a Jeans Day at your office.
• Organize an event for us and donate the proceeds to Hope House.

Be creative in your thinking. We are open to new ideas and would love to brainstorm with you. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or ideas on ways to get involved.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coming to Shelter

Coming to shelter can be one of the most intimidating steps a survivor takes on her road to escape abuse. Leaving behind all that she knows and all that she has can be scary.

The first couple of days in shelter will be spent adjusting to the new routines and getting oriented. Kids will need to be enrolled in school, if the decision is made to change schools. If she decides to keep the kids in their home school, that school is contacted to arrange transportation for the child.

Our goal is to make the shelter environment as home-like as possible. We want to make sure she and her children have stability, and feel safe and secure. We provide everything that they need: toilet paper, paper towels, tooth paste, shampoo and other personal care items, clothing, and meals. Residents don’t have to worry about spending money on these things because we are able to get most of the items donated by our caring community.

Each woman in shelter is assigned an Advocate. The advocates work with her to identify her strengths, areas of need, her goals, and obstacles to accomplishing her goals. To help her on that path, we offer individual and group counseling (for both women and children), parenting support and substance abuse counseling.

We do not have a set length of stay for shelter. We feel strongly that everyone’s needs are different. It’s difficult to say that in 60 days a woman will have her needs addressed and now it’s time for her to leave shelter.

We do not tell women what to do or what to think, but help them to determine what they want for themselves as they begin their journey toward a life free of abuse.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hope House's 24/7 Hotline

I am often asked how people come into our services and how they learn about all that we offer. The simple answer is they call our confidential 24-hour hotline number. Calling the hotline is often the first step a person takes to reach out to another person. It is frequently the first time that the caller has talked to anyone about what is going on in their home with their partner.

The hotline operators have many resources available to them to discuss with victims, family members or concerned individuals. You do not have to be a victim of domestic violence to call the hotline. If you know or suspect someone is being abused, you can call the hotline for resource and referral information.

When someone calls the hotline, we do not force them to make any decisions. We do not tell them what they should do. We offer resources and information so that the caller can make the best decision for herself. In domestic violence situations the ability to make decisions has been taken away. Our goal is to empower all of our callers to decide for themselves what is right for them, and what they want and need.

Whatever the caller decides, we will support. If she decides not to come into shelter, we make sure she has the information she needs and a safety plan in place. If the time comes that she decides shelter is for her, she will know what to do and will have the tools in place to make it happen.

The Hope House hotline number is 816-461-HOPE. In our last fiscal year we received 5,228 hotline calls. That is an average of 14 calls per day. There is someone from Hope House waiting to help you 24/7.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

When animals in a home are abused or neglected, it may be a warning sign that others in the household are being abused as well. 

An abuser will use many forms of intimidation and threats to maintain power and control. If a woman is forced to watch her spouse kill the family pet in front of her and her children, she will think very hard about her next steps. It is very effective in keeping women in the relationship, feeling trapped and afraid.

According to

  • 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had threatened, injured, maimed, or killed family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.
  • Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave.
Abuse of a beloved pet can be the trigger for a woman to make the call to the hotline to seek services. But lack of a safe place for the family pet could be a reason she can’t enter shelter.

When a woman comes into shelter at Hope House, we are able to house their pets overnight. The woman and her advocate will contact other agencies that specialize in work with animals and will try to arrange temporary solutions for the care of the pet. But this does not help in the long term.

We are currently in conversation with Independence Animal Control to explore ideas that could help women with pets who are seeking our services. We want to eliminate the barrier that may be keeping a woman from realizing her dream of a life that is free of abuse for her, her children and her pets.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lilith Fair to Donate $1 Per Ticket Sold in Kansas City

This week's guest blogger is Lee Marlin, Director of Marketing for Hope House.

Hope House receives funding from a variety of the obvious sources like government grants, area businesses, organizations, and individuals. But we're always on the lookout for less obvious opportunities.


The Lilith Fair Tour, 
a celebration of women in music, is coming to KC in July$1 from every ticket sold in Kansas City will be donated to the local charity with the most votes. That's where you come in...


This link takes you to the Lilith Fair site where you can see that Hope House is currently in the lead! But we need your help to cement that lead. Please click through and vote for Hope House. You must be a member of Facebook, but you don't have to live in Kansas City. You just have to care about the women and children we help every day.

The 2 minutes it takes you to vote could mean up to $18,000 (the capacity of Capital Federal Park @ Sandstone) for Hope House operations.


If Hope House wins, singer and Lilith organizer Sarah McLachlan will personally present a check for the amount raised to Hope House CEO MaryAnne Metheny during the show in Kansas City!