Friday, February 25, 2011

Legislative Breakfast

L-R Missouri Representatives Brent Lasater,
Jeff Grisamore, Noel Torpey, Ira Anders

Hope House hosted a breakfast for our recently installed legislators on January 28th. We had the opportunity to meet our new representatives and re-engage with those who have been in office. 

I love having their undivided attention to discuss what is happening at Hope House. It's a chance for us to say thank you for all that they do for their communities as well as to highlight the work we do, and the obstacles and challenges facing our clients.

We are able to advocate on our client’s behalf and to ensure that their needs are heard. We are extremely fortunate in Eastern Jackson County to have such wonderful representation and concern from our legislators. This is a difficult time for legislators facing another year of budget challenges and having to balance the needs of so many. I appreciate their willingness to come to the table and to hear our concerns.

I want to thank, Representatives Anders, Grisamore, Lasater, McManus, and Torpey; and Senator Kraus for taking time out of their busy schedules to attend our breakfast and tour our facility. I look forward to meeting with them throughout the year as we advocate for those who have been impacted by domestic violence.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Winter Weather

With crazy winter weather this year, we at Hope House must be very aware of all the things that can go wrong which can have a huge impact on our clients living in shelter and those coming to us for services. We implement emergency contingencies and go into hyper-planning mode to ensure that we are prepared if the worst case scenario happens. 

First and foremost, our responsibility is to those who are living with us and depend on us for their shelter and daily living needs. With school closings, we need to be prepared with enough food, as we’ll have the children here all day and will be feeding more than we normally would on a weekday.  

We need to have back up plans for electrical outages and emergency staffing plans for those who are working in shelter and those who cannot get in to relieve them. We do intakes and proceed as any other day, just like any other 24-hour facility. 

Our shelter and facilities staff outdid themselves this past storm. I am so appreciative of all of them and the way they handled the situation. They approached it with enthusiasm and determination. Shelter staff prepared themselves to stay for the long haul, and stay they did, doing 24+ hour shifts. They were real troopers. 

Facilities staff came in with shovels and the wonderful snow blowers that we received from our donors. They went to work first on the cars of the shelter staff so that they could go home as relief had arrived, then they went to work on the parking lots and sidewalks so people could get around.  

I am grateful to every one of them for their efforts and their dedication. They truly are heroes in my book.  We can’t stop doing what we do because of the weather and I am grateful for the staff who keep it all going.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's Day

Next week many people will hear from their significant other how much they are loved and how much they are appreciated. This will be shown with flowers, candy and perhaps a romantic dinner out. Of course, I am talking about celebrating Valentine's Day.

This is a wonderful holiday to celebrate with your loved one and to show them how much you care. However, this can be an extremely difficult holiday for those who have been experiencing domestic violence. The presence of flowers can have a different meaning if the only time you ever receive flowers is after a beating. What if the person who professes to love you also beats you? Calls you horrible names? Forces you to do things you don’t want to do?

 For those who are in our shelter and outreach services, we work to make this day special by celebrating our uniqueness and our special value as individuals. We work with clients to accept who they are and to work through where they have been. We help them dig down deep inside and find that person who is special and worthy of love - especially their own self-love.

When you have been a victim of abuse you can lose your love for yourself. You learn to believe the things that were said about you - that you are unlovable and unworthy of anyone’s love, not even your own. For if you were worth something and lovable, then your partner would not have had to beat you, right? (Of course not! The responsibility of the abuse lies with the abuser, not the victim.)

I ask that as you celebrate Valentine's Day next week, you pause and remember the women and children who are in shelter and services at Hope House. They are working hard to recover from their experiences of abuse, hoping to find themselves and to love themselves again.

Knowing that someone reclaimed themselves and found their voice to profess their self worth and their worthiness of love is the best Valentine's Day present I can receive.

(Note: If you'd like to be a part of a Valentine's Day present we're working on for the women in our shelter, please visit our website

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Many people don’t realize that domestic violence impacts not only adults, but young people as well.

One in three teens will experience violence in their dating relationships. The abuse experienced by teens is similar to the abuse experienced by adults, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, and intimidation. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence, at a rate almost triple the national average.

Teens are not always able to talk about the abuse to trusted adults in their lives. This can be due to a variety of factors including not acknowledging the signs of abuse, fear, embarrassment and fearing they wouldn’t be believed.

A teen’s confusion about the law and the desire for confidentiality are two of the most significant barriers to young victims of violence seeking help.

We must work together to bring attention to the issue of teen dating violence. To do that, we need to provide resources and education to the young people who are experiencing violence. We need to understand the dynamics of domestic violence, recognize it when it happens, and offer interventions. These steps are essential if we are to ever break the cycle.

For more resources regarding teen dating violence there are many websites available. Statistics for this blog came from You can also visit and the Hope House website for more information.