Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School

Well, it’s that time of the year… kids, as well as some adults, are heading back to school. I cannot believe how fast this summer has flown by.

It is exciting to see the seasons ready to change, school beginning and all of the hope and expectation that comes with starting something new.

We’re grateful for our ability to offer school supplies to each child entering school in the fall. They don’t have to go to school worrying about being labeled because they live in a shelter, or they don’t have enough money for supplies.

Our goal is that the children go to school without stress and worry about their living arrangements or what is going on in their lives. They need to focus on themselves and their school work, not finances, shelter, food, etc.

With the graciousness and generosity of our community, Hope House doesn’t have to worry about that either. There is enough for everyone to go to school equipped and ready to learn.

Children are resilient and have such hope and wonder about the world. This optimism can be dampened when there is trauma and crisis in their world. We work hard to help them find it again and bring it back to life.

Good luck to all of our students no matter what age they are. My hope is they have a very successful school year filled with new knowledge and excitement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Hope & All That Jazz

We are gearing up for our annual Hope and All That Jazz this Saturday, August 18, at the Muehlebach Hotel in downtown Kansas City.

We look forward to this annual event as we gather with 500 of our supporters and friends to raise money for the daily operations at Hope House. It is a fun evening to dress up and mingle with friends and those you haven’t seen for some time. 

Everyone is in a good mood and ready to bid on the wonderful auction items that are displayed so beautifully. Every year bidding wars happen. It’s so fun to watch people hovering close to the bid sheet, ready to write down the next bid as soon as the previous bidder walks away. 

We have wonderful donors that donate beautiful and unique auction items that appeal to everyone. We have sports items, beautiful artwork, home accents, a wonderful collection of wine, and so much more. There truly is something for everyone.

The live auction includes trips, sports packages, and a much sought after puppy, to name a few.

We will have a story from a survivor that I am so looking forward to hearing. She is truly an inspiration and I know people will be moved by her story of survival and her sense of gratitude and optimism.

If you have never been to Jazz before I encourage you to consider it this year. It’s a great time and all of the proceeds help us continue our mission of breaking the cycle of domestic violence.

It isn’t too late to sponsor a table or to buy individual tickets. Contact Libby at 816-257-9334 for more information. I hope to see you on the 18th.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Submissive, Aggressive or Empowered

Cyndie O'Bleness of Elements Martial Arts
Today's guest blogger is Lee Marlin, Director of Marketing for Hope House.

Submissive or aggressive. Very often, our clients and their children arrive at Hope House with one of these two responses to interactions with others. They’ve learned through living with their abuser whether “freeze, fight, or flight” is their best option for getting out of a situation unharmed.

Cyndie O’Bleness, owner of Elements Martial Arts in North Kansas City, believes there is a better response, which starts with self empowerment. 

Cyndie volunteers three times a week teaching classes in personal safety and empowerment at Hope House fo­­r the women, school-aged children, and pre-school children who are living in our shelter.

Cyndie’s philosophy when teaching at Hope House is, “We don’t want to get to the ‘fighting back’ stage. We want it (a confrontation) to be a non-event.” 

To that end, she teaches our clients how to use their voice and body language; how to set boundaries; how to get over the fear of saying “no” when someone is doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable. 

“Something as simple as eye contact is important, but extremely difficult for someone who’s been traumatized,” Cyndie explains.

Martial arts fighting isn’t taught in her classes at Hope House. “We don’t want to teach these women to fight and make them think they can walk back into the relationship and be safe.” However, if a women or child is interested in training in martial arts, Cyndie offers scholarships and sliding scale fees.

Hope House women’s therapist Janet Howard said of the trainings, “Because girls are taught in our society to ‘be nice’ it is often translated into being ‘submissive’ or ‘not making a scene’. Cyndie is teaching them that they have a voice and mind and can make their own decisions after they assess the situation.”

Jill Weiterman, Hope House children’s therapist says, “One of the best things about this program is the self-esteem I have seen it foster in the kids; especially some of the boys who are struggling with anger problems.  Cyndie has given the kids something to look forward to every week.” 

We are so grateful to Cyndie for all she does for our clients. She is teaching them skills that will change the way they relate to everyone in their life. To learn more about Cyndie’s classes, seminars, and outreach programs, please visit her website

Friday, August 3, 2012

Everyone Needs a Support System

Everyone needs a support system,
whether it's family or friends.
I recently had surgery to have my gall bladder removed. This was my first experience having any type of surgery and being in a hospital other than when I had my daughter years ago. It was very different being on the patient side, receiving all of the concern and support from family and friends. 

While I was in the hospital, I was never alone. I had my husband and daughter right there checking on me, making sure I didn’t lift anything or do too much. My parents arrived soon after I got home from the hospital and they never left my side. 

All of them were always available to help with whatever needed to be done. I didn’t have to worry about anything other than myself, and resting. 

This experience really made me realize how fortunate I am that I have such a loving and available support system. I am very aware that not everyone has such a support system, and they have to go through many challenges alone, without anyone to share their feelings, triumphs and trials.

I have thought about our clients and how so many of them handle experiences so much more severe than mine without that loving support system. How do they do it? How do they cope with such challenges without anyone helping them through the process?

I have always thought that our clients are the strongest people I have ever met, and my recent experience has affirmed that for me. 

For some people, Hope House may be the only support system that they have.  They look to us for the support and encouragement that others receive from family members and friends. I am so glad that we are there for those who do not have anyone else. 

I cannot imagine going through life without the love and support of my family.  Thankfully, I have that, and knowing that gives me the drive to continue this work so that Hope House is there when needed. No one should have to face life’s challenges alone.