Freedom from homelessness: Our democracy in action!

democracyThe 4th of July weekend is the ultimate summer celebration. It launches picnics, ice cream, fireworks and memories galore.   Amidst all of the celebrations and festivities, the 4th of July reminds us of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the words we hold so dear:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. …”

The principles and values described in the Declaration of Independence are uniquely American.  As a democratic society, we work to uphold and protect these values  each day. We know that in 1776, in a practical sense, the Declaration of Independence applied to and benefitted a certain class of persons with wealth and property. However, over time, the words themselves caught the imagination of persons and communities left out from the original text. The values, “all men created equal”, “unalienable rights”, “life, liberty, and happiness” transcended the original class of men and appealed to women, persons of color, all persons who did not own property. 

Today, thanks to historic and ongoing social justice struggles, American democracy and the Declaration of Independence includes millions more persons than did its original text.

There’s much for us to celebrate in the Declaration of Independence. It’s the foundation of our 241 year old democracy.  And, the struggles to realize and preserve its fullest potential continue. 

For many of our neighbors and friends, finding safe and stable homes from which they can establish their own foundation – – their personal declaration of independence – – seems remote.  And indeed, our sisters and brothers who are experiencing homelessness also have a right to reach their fullest potential. 

Finding affordable homes in the Quad Cities remains difficult for many:

  • persons and families with extremely low-incomes,
  • those working two or three jobs,
  • military veterans coping with PTSD and other combat related injuries, and
  • people with mental health and substance use challenges. 

Taking on homelessness is a big challenge.  And–with your help–Humility of Mary is working to address the root causes of homelessness. We’re keeping families and children safe.

HMHI bringing freedom

Our programs are showing great results. Our participants are building new and stronger foundations, creating safer and healthier environments for growth and long-term change. With the help of our program, two parents have recently reached their goals by earning their degrees in nursing and criminal justice. They can now join us in giving back to the community.  Click here to read an example. 

So far in 2017, eight households have advanced. They’ve moved into permanent housing opportunities of their own. New families are moving in. They look forward to bright futures for themselves and their children. By fully embracing the programs we offer, they’re more likely to reach their full potential as individuals and families.

The children in our programs are also affected. When children see mom or dad turning life around, getting degrees and jobs, they, in turn, begin to dream big dreams for themselves. We currently have a 14 year old who knows one day he will be a veterinarian. He has created a business card, and he’s mowing lawns to save for his education. The spark of a dream glows brightly in his mind. He’s developing his entrepreneurial skills as he works to save for his future. We’re helping him reach his full capacity.

Back in 1776, men of great vision and uncompromising spirit, gathered and drafted the Declaration of Independence. It was the beginning of a historic journey for all Americans to embrace freedom. We know that some thought it couldn’t be done. Naysayers said we’d never attain freedom. But, ‘We the People’ prevailed.  As it was then, it can be now. Join with Humility of Mary as we pursue this vision: homelessness doesn’t belong in the QCA.

The “self-evident truths” we hold dear are as true today as they were 241 years ago.

HMHI’s Summer Volunteers Are Fired Up!

porch volunteers
Summer 2017 brings great volunteer help to improve the Quad Cities and help our participating families.

Summer is heating up. And, our wonderful volunteers are hard at work, blazing new paths of progress for families!

They are cleaning apartments to prepare for families who need a place to live. They’re painting and renovating safe residents for our participating families.

We always need help in the donation center, and our volunteers are there! In summer, the grass is always growing around our 10 properties located in various sectors of Davenport. Our two full time maintenance men can’t keep up with all that mowing without volunteer assistance! 

Summer Volunteers 

We’d never be able to serve so many families (as we do everyday) without the help of some amazing volunteers!  Enjoy the photos (below) from some recent group projects. You’ll see Palmer College of Chiropractic students, YouthWorks students and chaperones, and a soldier from the Arsenal. All these groups and more have worked in June to help prepare homes for our families. In addition, individual volunteers and participants in AARP’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) as well as Goodwill SKILLS program members have steadily manned the needs of the Donation Center. 

In July YouthWorks teams will continue to serve us twice a week, beginning June 21 through July 27.  These teams of young Christians can come from anywhere in the US. So far, we’ve hosted teams from Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

KONE Elevators and Escalators of the Quad Cities will join send us a day team of workers in July. And a man from Camping World of Davenport is teaming up to help our families, as well.

Want to learn more for yourself or your group?  Call Patti, 563-326-1330. Individuals and teams of all ages and types are welcome to become summer volunteers!

June Volunteers!

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar
 

Davenport City Council Resolution Honors Efforts to Vanquish Homelessness

City of Davenport resolution
City of Davenport resolution honors survivors of homelessness, photo taken in council chamber on June 21, 2017. Photo: (L-R) John De Taeye, Humility of Mary; Michael Gayman, Catholic Worker House and The Center; Kim Brown, Quad City Harm Reduction; City of Davenport Mayor Frank J. Klipsch; Margot Hary, The Center.

Over the last several months Humility of Mary Housing and Shelter have convened community planning sessions with service providers and advocates who work with persons and families experiencing homelessness. The group is committed to building and sustaining a collaborative approach to reduce homelessness. They also want to increase the availability of home opportunities for extremely low income persons and families and persons living with severe mental health and substance use challenges. Success requires all of us working together!

 

“From Darkness to Light: Honoring Survival and Resilience”
June 21, 2017 Summer Solstice Resolution

WHEREAS, on any given day hundreds of Davenport residents including kids, families, and single adults are living in precarious, temporary living situations and as a result can be defined as “homeless”;

WHEREAS, the City of Davenport respects the inherent dignity and worth of all persons, especially residents living at the lowest income levels;

WHEREAS, the City of Davenport understands providing safe, quality short-term emergency shelters for extremely low-income residents, and increasing longer-term housing options for very low-income residents can reduce homelessness in Davenport;

WHEREAS, the City of Davenport knows mental health treatment and substance use treatment can help prevent homelessness and enable people to move out of homelessness;

WHEREAS, the City of Davenport recognizes ordinances that may expose homeless persons to heightened law enforcement actions can result in arrests and thus, additional barriers to securing employment and housing;

WHEREAS, the City of Davenport embraces harm reduction programs including ready availability of naloxone;

WHEREAS, the City of Davenport joins the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and New York City, Baltimore, Miami and several other cities across the United States in the June 21 Summer Solstice “From Darkness to Light: Honoring Survival and Resilience” observance;

BE IT RESOLVED, the City of Davenport joins the Quad City Shelter and Transitional Housing Council, business owners, and faith leaders in recognition of the June 21, 2017 Summer Solstice “From Darkness to Light: Honoring Survival and Resilience” as we honor our homeless residents Davenport who on a daily basis demonstrate resilience and strength;

BE IT RESOLVED, the City of Davenport is committed to end homelessness not only for individuals, but also as a society, with affordable housing, adequate incomes, health care, and supportive services.

BE IT RESOLVED, the City of Davenport honors the women, men and children who have overcome homelessness despite the odds, which give us the hope that together we can find the strength to create the political will to end homelessness for everyone. The fight for justice comes not from despair; it comes from hope – the hope that we can achieve Justice.


View a video news clip of the Summer Solstice Celebration event: http://www.ourquadcities.com/news/people-who-overcame-being-homeless-celebrated-in-davenport/748468675?ei


An album of photos of the Summer Solstice Celebration event midday event is available on our Flickr page.

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar

QC Junetopia 3 will benefit HMHI families, entertain the QCA

QC Junetopia 3QCJunetopia, a 3-day Quad Cities festival event will grace the area for its third consecutive year on June 16-18. A celebration of the area arts communities, the festival is becoming a cornerstone among local artists: musicians, comedians, artists, crafters, filmmakers, and performers of all kinds.

Nowadays, the founders consider it an annual community-strengthening event. Junetopia features dozens of bands, both local and regional. Local artists sell their locally-produced goods. Events occur in local venues. All profits benefit the Humility of Mary Shelter, Humility of Mary Housing, Kings Harvest Ministries, and the Kings Harvest Pet Rescue No-Kill Shelter.

For information on acts, times and tickets: http://qcjunetopia.com/location-information/ A three day ticket is just $25, but you can purchase day tickets also.

Visit the travelIOWA blog for more information about QCJunetopia 2017. Communicate with fans, founders and performers on their Facebook page.

Click the image to view the event poster in readable size:

qc junetopia 3 poster

Solstice Event 2017: Celebrate resiliency and success over homelessness

summer solstice successThis year the Quad-Cities will celebrate its first Summer Solstice Event 2017. Entitled “From Darkness to Light: Honoring Success and Resilience,” the June 21 gathering celebrates people who overcome homelessness. As a community we’ll also affirm that we can end homelessness for everyone. Local organizations who assist people experiencing homelessness are hosting the Quad Cities Summer Solstice Event 2017.

The event will gather around a potluck meal. The Center, located at 1411 Brady Street in Davenport, IA hosts the event from 11:30 AM until 1:00 PM. The Center and Humility of Mary Housing and Shelter will provide a main dish. They ask participants to bring a potluck dish to share. This sharing reaffirms our local commitment to provide safe shelter and housing options for anyone in need.

Summer Solstice Event 2017 Participants

The local event targets members of the Quad-City Shelter and Transitional Housing Council, Quad-City Area service and advocacy organizations. Faith leaders, business owners, elected officials and members of the public are all encouraged to attend. We are stronger together as we support those in need.

The celebration of summer solstice originated nationally by the National Healthcare for the Homeless Council. They organize events in Miami, New York City and Baltimore. This initial event in the Quad Cities joins the energy in these metro areas.

Summer Solstice 2017 Event Origins

December 21 is the Winter Solstice, the first day of winter and the longest night of the year. Homeless Person’s Memorial Day events that day honor individuals who have lost their lives while enduring homelessness. Similarly, a new corresponding effort is arising on June 21. That day is the Summer Solstice, the first day of summer and longest day of the year. US cities are celebrating those who have overcome homelessness on that day. We affirm that we can end homelessness for everyone.

Homelessness is not permanent. It is not a condition that defines the rest of a person’s life. It is easy to become homeless. But, it’s no easy task to break out of homelessness. People without homes face many systemic barriers. These range from the high cost of housing to low wages and inadequate public assistance programs. All these factors are complicated by poor health and poverty.

Nevertheless, some people surmount these great challenges and reclaim stable, healthy, and productive lives. So, we honor their accomplishments and draw inspiration from them as we continue the struggle for housing justice and human rights.

For more information contact Michael Gayman [The Center 563-505-5621] and/or John De Taeye [Humility of Mary Housing and Shelter 563-484-6901].

Moving from Homelessness to Registered Nurse in the Quad Cities

Katie and son at graduation

This May–always a month of graduations–marks an important turning point in the life of a young woman who has battled to success despite her family’s homelessness. Her nursing career has taken a leap to the next level as she moves from homelessness to registered nurse. And, HMHI supporters played an important role in this success story.

Katie resides in one of the eight units of HMHI’s Permanent Supportive Housing program. When she came to us, she was pregnant. When speaking of those days, she remembers having “nowhere to go. I moved into my apartment two weeks shy of giving birth to my son, Keltin. While I was in the hospital, I promised my newborn that someday I would be able to provide for him.”

While in our program, Katie maintained steady employment. At the same time, she continuously furthered her education. While juggling work and school, Katie also accepted the challenges of raising her son as a single mother.

Katie was accepted into the Scott Community College nursing program in 2015. Money was really tight for her. But, she earned herself a PELL Grant. She scraped together the funding she needed to apply, pay tuition and purchase books for the program. However, just a month before her courses of study were to begin, she received a long list of medical equipment and specific supplies that the program required.

The cost of materials she needed to begin classes totaled $650. Katie didn’t have that amount of money in reserve. With help from family and friends, she pieced together much of this unexpected extra funding needed at the last minute. But, she couldn’t raise it all. What she could access wasn’t going to be enough.

mission accomplished
HMHI’s plea for help inspired supporters to come forward. Their contributions made Katie’s success a possibility. [Image from 2015 HMHI website archive]
So, HMHI turned to our supporters using the Internet and social media, publishing a plea for help. Supporters donated toward Katie’s nursing fund–without knowing Katie or even much about her personal situation. They simply helped a stranger from the generosity of their hearts. Within days, Katie was bound for her courses–fully supplied.

Katie has worked very hard to complete the nursing program–all while continuing to work as a certified nursing assistant (CNA). Katie recently graduated from Scott Community College’s Nursing program with her Registered Nurse (RN) degree. Her service coordinator, Lauren Gustafson, was on hand to watch Katie receive her nursing pin.

Katie will take her board examinations in the fall. She intends to seek out employment as a Registered Nurse. But she’s not finished yet! While working as an RN, Katie plans on on continuing her education. She has her sights set on achieving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. 

Katie kept her promise to her son. Equipped with this nursing degree, their future looks bright. She thanks HMHI’s program, staff and supporters:

Without this program, I can only imagine where I would be right now.  It was by the grace of God and true dedication that I am where I am today.  And I could never be here if it wasn’t for this program. God bless you all!

HMHI Program Director Sandy Dimmer almost bursts with pride as she recalls this participant’s trajectory of achievement: “Katie has worked so hard since she has been with us. I am so proud of her!”

RN graduates
Katie and her son have earned a success to celebrate.

More than 50 volunteers helped us: United Way Day of Caring

United Way Day Of Caring team
This United Way Day of Caring team did outreach work for us in Rock Island.

by Patti Trapp, Volunteer Coordinator for HMHI and Humility of Mary Shelter

volunteer yardwork
Yard work at property sites helps prepare homes for families in need.

Today was the semi-annual Spring 2017 United Way Day of Caring. We at HMHI greatly benefitted from the volunteer work participants contributed. We sincerely thank all our United Way Day of Caring Volunteers! Today, we had teams from area businesses as well as individuals in attendance. We thank John Deere, John Deere retirees, St. Ambrose University, Quad City Raiders and Triumph Bank who sent groups to assist us with so many projects.

Fortunately, today’s weather was perfect for a work day! We had volunteers painting an apartment, doing yard work, power washing home exteriors, planting a community garden and doing community outreach. Over 50 people participated in groups supporting Humility of Mary Housing and Humility of Mary Shelter—as well as the people we serve who are experiencing homelessness and working hard to escape its grip.

The Day of Caring Rock Island Outreach project got off to a great start this morning! Fifteen very enthusiastic volunteers covered the downtown neighborhood, distributing over 300 brochures, Helping With Humor fliers, and outreach cards.

Volunteer projects like these are invaluable to HMHI/HMSI. The volume of work that we have in property management alone is overwhelming at times. So, we are grateful for every volunteer and every hour that is so generously given.

Last fiscal year (7/1/15 through 6/30/16) 236 volunteers gave over 6000 hours to HMHI. In addition, volunteers served us through the AARP, RSVP, community service, workman’s comp-rehab programs and area schools!  

See United Way’s website for details on the next Day of Caring event which will take place here in the fall. Remember….volunteer opportunities are ongoing at HMHI! For details call Patti: 563-326-1330 x 105.

United Way of the Quad Cities says: “Today, we engaged 900 volunteers in 56 projects, a true testament of how when we work together, we all win!”

garden groundskeepers team
Teams of hard workers accomplished a tremendous amount of work today.

 

Goodwill SKILLS Program Partners with HMHI. We All Win!

SKILLS thank  you cards
Our reception room bulletin board features the thank you cards SKILLS participants sent us.

By Patti Trapp, HMHI Volunteer Coordinator

We have many lovely volunteers through Goodwill SKILLS Program Day Habilitation Services. This program meets the needs of people who face barriers to independence. SKILLS program participants come to HMHI offices and work as volunteers for a few hours each week. SKILLS stands for: Socialization, Knowledge, Integration, Leisure, Life Skills & Support. We help the participants strengthen their skills as they volunteer for us.

SKILLS Day Habilitation Program
Photo credit: Goodwill, SKILLS Day Habilitation Program brochure

The Goodwill volunteers come to us in small groups of 4 to 6 along with a case worker from Goodwill. These teams work closely with another of my amazing volunteers, JoLynne, who is a retired missionary. Together they have a great time, the young people from Goodwill gain skills, increase their confidence, have interaction with others and…fun!

The groups come every other week for about two hours and rotate so that they all get an opportunity to attend. Each visit brings new challenges. The teams have:

  • helped clean out the file room,
  • priced items for the Benefit Sale,
  • stocked shelves;
  • decorated the children’s bulletin board for various seasons and holidays.

Sometimes the tasks we have planned prove to be a bit much. Then, we regroup and find something else to work on. No matter what the task, they are always joyful. There are days their stellar attitude puts mine to shame. We are learning a lot from each other through this experience!

As a special thank you, they all got to shop at our Fresh Start Benefit Sale. They had so much fun doing their own shopping! You could tell that great thought was going into their purchases. It was exciting to see their ‘coupon’ clutched tightly as they spread out through the warehouse floor and looked for treasures. On this trip they were learning about the value of their coupon, checking prices and doing simple arithmetic; each experience building on the one before. In all, approximately 30 young people came with their case workers. They were split into 2 groups, one came in the morning and one in the afternoon. Each group spent an hour or more shopping.

Goodwill SKILLS On Display

JoLynne
HMHI Volunteer JoLynne works with groups from Goodwill’s SKILLS program.

The week after the sale, they arrived to work again, surprising us with handmade thank you cards. Now, we proudly display those cards in our front office. Stop in and admire that careful work—each one a testimony to the relationships we’ve formed. I’d love to share a photo of these happy, smiling–always smiling—individuals, but we want to honor their privacy.

All our volunteers are a blessing to us. But, these young people have particularly touched us with their zest for life and willingness to help.

Thank you, to our wonderful friends at Goodwill! By partnering with nonprofit agencies in the Quad Cities, our community grows stronger.

HMHI Earns Quad Cities Locals Love Us 2017 Award

 

locals love us 2017
Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. received a 2017 award in the category of “Best Charitable/Community Services.”

Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. received an award from the Quad Cities Locals Love Us 2017 community-wide survey. We merited an award in the category of “Best Charitable/Community Services.” 

Locals Love Us asks the people in the Quad Cities to vote their opinions. The public selects the best places and say who are their favorites in the community. Community members vote in an annual survey. The results appear in a print and online directory.

Locals Love Us 2017We’re happy to share this spotlight with these other fine agencies: Quad City Animal Welfare Center, Habitat for Humanity Quad Cities/Restore, United Way of the Quad Cities, and King’s Harvest Ministries.

This award may result in greater public awareness about the issue of homelessness in the Quad Cities. Three of five agencies selected deal specifically with human homelessness. The remaining agencies serve homeless animals and support agencies that alleviate homelessness locally. 

Humility of Mary Housing earned one of the original Locals Love Us awards in 2013-2014 and another in 2014-2015. 

We sincerely thank the Quad Cities for their ongoing support and for their trust. This honor encourages us to continue and redouble our efforts to improve life for everyone in our community by supporting vulnerable families.

Local Man responds: Davenport Homelessness Debate

Davenport homelessness debateA local man who is currently a participant in our partner agency, Humility of Mary Shelter, has publicly responded to current events in Davenport. In a letter to the editor of the Quad City Times, the participant, unnamed to protect his privacy, addresses “…concerning statements made in the past two weeks regarding the homeless and facilities provided to assist them.”

The statement appears to be a reference to remarks by a local alderman which have sparked a public response of outrage. The remarks were quoted in the Times in conjunction with the city’s closure of Timothy’s House of Hope due to zoning issues. The remarks–and the closure itself–have put compassion as a public policy into the spotlight in Davenport.

Davenport Homelessness Debate

The letter to the editor is notable in that it is a representative voice in response from the population served by Timothy’s House of Hope. Opening with a prayer that no one ever experience homelessness, it proceeds to call leaders into accountability for their remarks against those less fortunate. It continues to say:

Homelessness is a fact of life, which encompasses all walks of individuals with no prejudice to race, color, status, religion, sex, or creed. To the individual that would use the media to publicly degrade myself, or any other person who may be in a less fortunate position than yourself, all I can say is thank you, on behalf of the person who will replace you in public office.

Common sense should tell us that as concerned citizens, in order to prevent more crimes and destitute situations, there needs to be a place provided to offer some help, guidance, information and encouragement. This center, Timothy’s House of Hope, would offer a positive forum for men, women, and young people to live in a city we are all supposedly so proud of.

This week, Davenport considered zoning changes that would allow Timothy’s House of Hope to operate. City staff will draft an ordinance revision that would allow meal service at the site. Opportunity for more public input is forthcoming.