Friday, February 28, 2014

Year in Review

Amazingly 2013 has come and gone. I continue to be in awe of how fast time goes. They say the older you get the faster it goes and this certainly seems to be true for me. I have been reviewing our fiscal year numbers as we work to finalize our annual report. The audit and tax returns are almost finished and soon FY 2013 will be officially complete.

What did FY and calendar year 2013 mean for Hope House? We celebrated 30 years of providing services in Eastern Jackson County. We realized that 2013 was similar to 2012, we saw more need and harder to secure resources. We served more people in shelter than 2012 and turned away more people than ever. We provided 2,300 more Bednights than the previous year and continue to have long waiting lists in our outreach programming. The need continues to be very high as people continue to be victimized by domestic violence. I long for the day that I am able to say it is no longer a problem in our society, we have it solved. But until then we will continue our work.

We continue to be very blessed to be part of a community that cares about the people that we work with. I am uplifted when I see children coming in with their parents to make donations and groups coming together with new and unique ways of raising funds and collecting needed items from our wish lists. We continue to work to identify new funding sources to help us meet the growing need and fund the vital services we are providing.

We want to do so much more than we are but we are doing a lot now and I want to celebrate that and recognize that even though there is always more that can be done. We continue to provide emergency shelter services for over 1,100 women and children; we work with thousands in our outreach programming and continue our valuable partnerships with law enforcement, courts and medical personnel. Thanks to the Jackson County Mental Health Levy fund we were able to train all of our staff to be Trauma Informed and now we are working to secure funding to take that training to the next level in order to provide trauma informed services. Our Diversity Committee continues to work hard to ensure we are providing the best service to our clients and that everyone we serve feels welcomed and accepted.

Our goals for this year include evaluating our current level of service and identifying areas of need, and working to address those needs through program changes or potentially providing additional services. We will examine each program, look at what we currently provide, and determine if that is still what we need or do we need to adapt to new presenting issues. This is critical to do on an annual basis to ensure that we are best meeting the needs of our clients. We may not be able to make a lot of changes due to funding restrictions or lack of available staff, but then we prioritize our needs and make changes more slowly, always striving to do the best we can with what we have.

Learn more at

Friday, February 21, 2014

Combating Human Trafficking

There was quite a bit of coverage prior to the Super Bowl about the Super Bowl being the single largest human trafficking incident in the United States. While there is very little evidence to support this claim, media outlets reported that between 13 and 17 human trafficking victims were rescued prior to and during the Super Bowl this year. 

According to USA Today, “authorities arrested more than 45 pimps and their helpers, some of whom said they traveled to the New York region to traffic the women and juveniles at the NFL championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The teens, ages 13 to 17, were found in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. More than 50 women coerced into sex for money were also saved, the agency said. Some of the victims had been involved in international sex trafficking. Six children were rescued in both New Jersey and New York, and four others in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, the FBI said.”

I was pleased to read that part of the plan to stop human trafficking included training and educating hospitality works, airport security employees and other groups that come into contact with children and groups of individuals who are traveling and moving about the country. 

I do believe that widespread training of individuals that come into contact with children and adults as they travel will bring positive results in identifying potential human trafficking victims, as well as victims of other crimes such as kidnapping and abuse.

My daughter and I flew to Chicago recently and, for the first time; she was directly asked questions regarding her name, where she was going and her relationship to me. I was very happy they were asking her these questions as I understood it was a way to see red flags, was she going against her will, did she really know where she was going and did she really know me and trust me. My daughter was very confused and somewhat taken aback by the questions until I explained to her why they were asking and then she was comfortable with the “intrusive questioning”.

Abuse of women and children is an atrocious crime and one I work every day to help bring an end to. I am encouraged by the progress I am seeing in the changes in how we are conducting everyday business and bringing awareness to the general public that they too can be a part of the solution and make a difference.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today is the day many people will enjoy romantic dinners, chocolates, lovely cards and beautiful flowers. They will be told how much they are loved and appreciated by their significant others, parents, children and other important people in their lives.

Valentine’s Day is a wonderful holiday meant to celebrate love and loving relationships. However, this can be an extremely difficult holiday for those who have experienced 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? Tells you that you are ugly, worthless and a horrible person? What if your partner forces you to do things you don’t want to do? It can be difficult in those situations to celebrate today.

We work with our clients every day to help them see their inner beauty and their value and worth as an individual. We help them to reclaim their sense of self and find the love for themselves they have lost somewhere in the mess of domestic violence. We don’t need others to love us to be worthwhile individuals. While love from another can be wonderful and fulfilling, we can be o.k. by ourselves and truly love ourselves for who we are. This is the value we work with clients to find and to reclaim.

Today as you celebrate Valentine’s Day remember your worth as an individual and please remember the people that we are working with in our services. They are working hard to recover from the abuse they have suffered and learning to live with new traditions and new found skills. Please consider making a donation to Hope House to help us further our work with amazingly strong and beautiful people--people worthy of love. The best Valentine’s Day present I will receive today is knowing that I helped someone, in some small way; find her voice and her sense of self- worth and love she has for herself. 

To donate, go to and click on the donate button. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Winter Wonderland

We are having quite the winter this year! We seem to have it all, ice, snow, colder than normal temperatures. School has been cancelled; we closed Hope House offices due to the snow storm which dumped ten inches of snow across our area. This weather certainly challenges our patience, our resources for snow removal, street treatment, cancellations of events, business closings, flight cancellations etc.

It doesn’t look like we will be getting a break either with more snow predicted for this weekend and Monday. I wonder if school will be able to resume before spring! But even with all of the challenges and the patience and strength required to shovel our driveways, parking lots and sidewalks, dig people out of ditches the winter wonderland provides an opportunity for fun as well. 

We closed our office on Tuesday due to the weather but due to the nature of our work we must always have staff on hand. I am so grateful for the staff who worked during the storm. The shelter staff braved the streets and made it into work so that they could relieve the person who had come in earlier in the day. The Facilities staff worked tirelessly outside in the elements to make sure the sidewalks and the driveways were clear so staff and clients could get in and out without danger of getting stuck or falling. Their work continued into the next few days as they continued to clear parking lots and sidewalks. I am grateful to all of them for their work and dedication.

On Wednesday, I was working in my office and heard squealing and such amazing laughter that I had to turn around to see what was happening in the court yard. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the kids throwing snow balls and running around in the snow as if it was the first time they had ever been in snow. It is sometimes hard for me as an adult to remember the fun that winter can bring. So as we all continue to work through the challenges brought out by the snow, I will continue to remember the children playing in the courtyard, having the time of their lives playing with the very same snow that has caused so many challenges. I forget sometimes to find the silver lining, those children helped me remember. I will also remember the dedication of the staff who put the needs of others before their own and will be grateful to work with such dedicated individuals.

Stay safe and warm and travel safely and remember the joy the children experienced in the snow.