Redirecting lives adrift–our purpose since the beginning

Trish and daughter
Trish Turner and her daughter, Adriana, stand before a housing unit that once sheltered them, years ago. Photo Credit: Catholic Messenger:

Seventeen years ago, Trish Turner, then a 17 year-old, turned to us, overwhelmed by responsibilities of school, employment, parenthood and the need to find a safe place to live. Catholic Messenger reporter Barb Arland-Fye tells the story in the December 27 issue: “Humility of Mary Housing helped mom turn life around”

The story begins here:

The mother of one of her closest friends gave Trish the phone number for Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. “I never would have thought a phone call would have been such a saving grace.”

The supportive transitional and permanent housing program, now in its 23rd year, provides single-parent families experiencing homelessness with opportunities for growth and development that could result in self-sufficient living. Each family receives a furnished apartment and pays rent based on income and as determined by U.S. Housing and Urban Development standards.

“If you don’t have a place to call home and you don’t have food to put on the table, you can’t do anything else. When participants have these basic needs met, then they can work on goals,” said Sister Mary Ann Vogel, CHM, HMHI’s finance director.

Fortunately for Trish, who was one of our very first participants, this story has a happy ending. Do read it in its entirety on the Catholic Messenger website.

In a world filled with bad news stories, hope is a precious commodity.

We deal in hope at HMHI. You, our supporters, make hope happen.

Human trafficking –Learning the reality…and changing it

teresa matibag
Presenter Teresa Downing-Matibag clearly explained the sobering reality of human trafficking.

Many of us thought slavery ended a long time ago. But it did not. So, to update ourselves on the modern horror of human trafficking, HMHI invited Teresa Downing-Matibag, PhD to update us at our fall all-staff inservice day. Representing the Network against Human Trafficking, Teresa presented “Human Trafficking: Local Solutions to Global Slavery,” a presentation that informed and generated lots of discussion.

As we discussed, sharing from our own personal experience, it became increasingly evident that trafficking of persons is happening–not just somewhere far away–but in our own area, affecting our own lives. It was a sobering reality to consider, but this consideration raises awareness. Awareness and the knowledge of how to respond are effective tools in the battle to eliminate modern slavery.

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed legislation to add the End Human Trafficking in Government Contracting Act to the NDAA act of 2013, largely through the efforts of U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal of Conneticut and Rob Portman of Ohio who co-chair the bipartisan Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking.

Reflecting on the effort, Blumenthal stated:

“Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses.  By increasing preventative scrutiny, investigation, and prosecution, this legislation will stop egregious human rights abuses on U.S military bases, increasing security for our troops, and preventing waste of taxpayer dollars.” 

This recent legislative move was a major boost for trafficking rights advocates. They’ve been working toward a replacement to the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the United States’ main anti-trafficking law, which expired last year and has yet to be reauthorized.

Nevertheless, Teresa asserted while she instructed us that human trafficking is not an issue that will be solved merely by legislation and/or by punitive enforcement of law. We need to work toward a culture that grants dignity to all and does not allow humans to be bought and sold.

HMHI Winners collect Thanksgiving pies

HMHI children's November winners
DJ and Liyah are pictured at Village Inn with their pies–prized trophies for winning the November HMHI essay contest.

What better prize can you win for a Thanksgiving essay contest than a pie compliments of Village Inn? That was the trophy take-home with which DJ and Liyah treated their families. DJ and Liyah were the winners in November’s essay contest. Their essay, entitled “Why My Family Loves to Celebrate Thanksgiving” took top honors among the  participating children from HMHI families.

HMHI thanks Village Inn, and manager Mani, for sponsoring this month’s contest prize. Everyone loves Village Inn pies, and they taste even better with you’ve earned them with your best writing!

Autumn contest fun for HMHI children

HMHI childrenOur HMHI children, who once knew housing insecurity, now eagerly participate in monthly contests where everyone wins. Mozella Stokes, our office receptionist, loves children and has a motherly knack for knowing what they will like. Due to her initiative and creativity,  the kids of our participating families can join seasonal activities that often get the entire family involved.

HMHI children & pumpkins
Samantha (left) and her brother Stephen, winner of 2nd prize, proudly brought the pumpkins for a display at HMHI’s office during Mozella’s fall contest.

Last week Mozella announced the winners of the fall pumpkin decorating contest. First place winner Alexis brought home a Happy Joe’s Famly Pizza Night for her family. Steven 2nd place winner (pictured), received a Marvel Hero Racing set. Mozella contacted Quad City HyVee stores to solicit pumpkin donations and requested Happy Joe’s for the first prize package sponsorship.

Every child who participated received a treat bag. All the children were able to bring the pumpkins back home to decorate their houses for Halloween. It was a winning event for all the families who took part.

Details of Mozella’s Thanksgiving contest, our final contest for 2012, are posted on the website Events Calendar page.

Successful fall sale capped by Quad City Times support

photo credit Quad City Times
Photo Credit: Quad City Times, Jeff Cook. Shoppers loved the bargains at last weekend’s Fall Fresh Start Sale. Proceeds benefited our HMHI programs.

The semi-annual fall sale last weekend cleared lots of merchandise from our warehouse, sending it to new homes in the Quad Cities. The rummage sale of items donated to Humility of Mary Housing will benefit the programs that empower single parent families that are in need of homes. This was the first fall Fresh Start Sale at our new agency headquarters, a building that we moved into just one year ago.

We’re always grateful to communicate our message to the wider community and let the Quad Cities know about the great work we’re doing to make our area a better, more productive place to live. So we were blessed to receive coverage in the Quad City Times in an article by Jennifer DeWitt.

Gertrude Vogel and Sue Purcell
Gertrude Vogel (left) and Sue Purcell sort donations to use and sell at the Fresh Start Sale.

DeWitt’s article focused on the origins of the Fresh Start Sale. What is now grown into a huge event had humble beginnings in the garage of Gertrude Vogel, long-time volunteer at HMHI. Gertrude is still a daily visitor at HMHI who maintains a lively interest and involvement in the sale.

The Times article went beyond the sale itself to explain to the public the mission that the Fresh Start Sale funds: transitional and permanent housing for single parent families. For just $35 dollars a day, we are able to support and launch a formerly homeless family, empowering them to achieve housing independence. That’s money well spent.

The Fresh Start Sale crew will now set its sights on preparations for the Spring Sale 2013.

Leadership supporting families in crisis

HMHI leaders cut ribbon on new officesFamilies participating in HMHI programs access professional assistance from an organization that has won respect state-wide. Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. leaders have carefully grown the agency from its initial four units to its current 49 housing units.

HMHI offers a compassionate and informed approach to families that bear the trauma and stress that accompanies homelessness. The agency is a leader with a pioneering programming model as well as by its principle of holding participants to a standard that will support success.

Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. recognizes the important work family shelters accomplish. It partners closely with the programs that provide such shelter in the Quad Cities. At the same time, for the last twenty-two years HMHI has pioneered a different sort of program to assist single-parent families who lack stable housing.

Treating each family individually, HMHI recognizes that each family has unique needs and assets.

Alternatives to shelter living can and do work.

Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. is leading an alternative model to the traditional shelter approach. That model creates positive results…every day.

To learn more about how leaders have carefully fostered the HMHI agency so that many families can receive assistance, read this post.

Volunteer! Join the cause

Volunteers of all ages help us address homelessness, supporting the work of Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. in many ways. Volunteer help could range from direct action with participating families, to helping maintain properties or working to raise funding for programs.

yardwork volunteerOver the past year dozens and dozens of volunteers have contributed hundreds of volunteer hours at HMHI. This represents an outpouring of community support. Volunteers are a pillar of strength that allow HMHI to continue its important mission in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

Your contribution is most welcome! Visit the volunteer page, or contact the volunteer director for more information. Both individual and group opportunities are available.

ambrose urban plunge
St. Ambrose University Urban Plunge students donated a morning of labor, Fall 2015. “We absolutely enjoyed the day and would like to thank you for the opportunity to help,” they said.
volunteers serving food
Volunteers serve hot dogs at HMHI’s annual Family Night at the Family Museum event in Bettendorf, IA, June 2012.

Support means success

Adding support at the critical time changes lives. At HMHI, transformations the seem miraculous are normal. Desperate adults who once lacked housing become productive, tax-paying citizens. Children gain new respect for their parents and learn that there is a different way to live. The following stories of some families recently supported show that changing lives is possible. To learn more about HMHI services, visit the program page.

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Just this year, Patty and her daughter transitioned out of the HMHI program when Patty graduated from St. Ambrose University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She secured a position at Marquette Academy in Davenport, teaching second grade. Patty and her daughter Hayley now can live in housing of their own choice, paying fair market rent.

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Robyn and her daughter Brett transitioned out of the HMHI program and purchased a home with Robyn’s fiance, Justin. Robyn gained employment at Toys ‘R’ Us while she was in the program and was promoted to Department Supervisor last spring. Justin, a veteran with nine years of military experience, currently works with the U.S. Army on the Rock Island (IL) Arsenal Garrison. Brett is completing high school. Robyn credits her success while in the HMHI program to her goal-oriented focus.

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Jennifer, a former HMHI participant of Native American heritage, completed her associate of Arts degree while participating in the HMHI program. She is now attending the University of Iowa where she is attending classes leading to her Bachelor of Arts degree. Jennifer inspired us while in the HMHI program with her volunteer work, going beyond the accomplishment of her own educational goals to contribute to the betterment of others. She and her son were well-known and well-liked volunteers at HMHI fund-raising functions.

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Jacquelyn, a current participant, works full time as a certified nursing assistant while raising her son James, a student very active in sports. In addition to fulfilling her family’s work and school responsibilities, Jackie takes delight in her flower beds and cares for the yard at her HMHI apartment with great pride.

support for families without homes

Facing Homelessness in the Quad Cities ~ Frequently Asked Questions

Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. focuses exclusively on the issue of homelessness. It addresses the needs of single-parent families in the Quad Cities. The agency is well qualified to answer frequently asked questions [FAQs] about homelessness in the Quad Cities:

1). How many single-parent families in the Quad Cities seek out HMHI for services?

Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. serves about 80 families each year. We receive inquiries and applications from four times as many families as we are able to place in our program. The need for affordable housing in the Quad Cities area is evident to us every day.

2.) What other agencies help homeless families in the Quad Cities?

We work with a coalition of agencies that serve populations representing the spectrum of homelessness in the Quad Cities. As participants in the continuum of care consortium, we are one of several agencies who work cooperatively to address the multiple categories of support assistance that a community of our size needs. No other agency specializes in the specialized needs of single parent families who are homeless.

3.) I’d like to donate. What do you need?

Some items our families need on a daily basis are:

  • paper goods (toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, tissues)
  • cleaning supplies (trash bags, cleaning products)
  • personal hygiene products (diapers, baby wipes, personal care products)
  • food pantry items, kitchen products and dining ware
  • small household appliances, vacuum cleaners, electronics

During the Winter Holidays, the families can use support with gift-giving. At back-to-school time, the children need school supplies. During the summer, fans and window air conditioners are welcome.

For more details on usable items, see this post.

HMHI Homeless family

homeless toddler

HMHI’s Fall Semi-Annual Fresh Start Benefit Sale: October 12-13

benefit sale

The public is invited to attend our Fall Semi-Annual Fresh Start Benefit Sale at Humility of Mary Housing, Inc.  The event is coming soon:

Friday evening, October 12: 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. and 

Saturday, October 13: 8:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M.

It will be held at 3805 Mississippi Ave. in Davenport, IA–our home office. [map]

This sale will include many new and good used items, including—

Household items, Dishes, Bedding and linens, Glassware, Jewelry, Books, Small appliances, Furniture

Every item for sale has been screened for quality by our experienced inventory processors. These dedicated women select only the best quality items for our event.

The Fresh Start Sale was formerly held at the Scott County Fairground as an annual event. Our new office headquarters now allows us to hold a sale more frequently and with lower overhead expenses. More of our proceeds than ever before will benefit families without homes.

The sale is now featuring clothing for Children, Infants and Adults!

Because we can offer sales more frequently and process inventory on an ongoing basis, we’re now able to offer high-quality new and used clothing for all ages and sizes.

All proceeds will benefit Humility of Mary Housing, Inc. and provide transitional and permanent housing for single parent families in the Quad Cities.

 Our prices can’t be beat. Don’t miss this sale!

Tell your friends and neighbors. Bring them with you; there’s plenty of inventory. We hope that we will see you!

Enjoy a peek at what awaits you at the Fresh Start Sale. (Click on any image to see an enlarged version.)