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.