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. 

Message from a grateful HMHI program participant

Tina, a participant in HMHI’s permanent supportive housing program, expresses her appreciation and gratitude.

With the help of our supporters, HMHI can provide assistance to struggling and grateful single parent families in need. While many are aware of the housing assistance we provide to families who have nowhere to live, many are unaware of the many supportive elements of assistance we offer. With the help of wrap-around assistance, it becomes possible for families to regain their footing and eventually exit our program once  again self-sufficient and able to choose housing that they can afford.

This is a note of appreciation from one family who are grateful for all the support they are receiving:

“Humility of Mary Housing has been a godsend for my daughter and me. We are so thankful for the program.

There have been times when I couldn’t afford the copay for my medications, and HMHI helped me get them. The group meetings are very informative and have given me the opportunity to meet other program participants, who have become my friends.

They also have fun activities for our kids to do.

I feel like everyone who works for HMHI is like our family. They acknowledge our accomplishments.

I don’t know what I would have done or where my daughter and I would be living today if it were not for Humility of Mary Housing.”  ~Tina

Local family recovers from domestic violence through HMHI program

Laureen and her two children survive domestic violence
Laureen and her children are overcoming challenges and creating a better future with the help of the Humility of Mary supportive housing program.

Laureen and her two children, Andre and Andrea, are survivors of domestic violence who currently participate in our supportive housing program. This family inspires us as they work hard to heal the damage left from the chaos of their former life. Laureen says she’s learning now to take each day, each step, deliberately, and to choose the best path possible for herself and her children. When interviewed, Laureen candidly explained how she adressed and sought for mental health issues in this recovery process. Now she’s pursuing more education to help her better manage her family’s finances.

Domestic violence leads to homelessness for many families. The Humility of Mary program becomes a lifeline to single-parents who come to grips with the issue and move forward determinedly toward a better future. Laureen’s own words explain what this means on a personal level:

The Humility of Mary Housing program has become a Beacon of Hope for me and my family. As an expectant single mother with two teens I so appreciate HMHI. Everyone–from the secretary to the director, and even the volunteers–everyone has been a wonderful blessing to me and my family. With their support, we have housing and all our basic needs are covered.

We feel safe and we have a better hope for our future with the help and support of this program.

I believe homelessness should be a thing of the past. I believe this program needs all the sponsors and support available, because HMHI takes on many different kinds of families in need: those with mental health issues, domestic violence victims, and more.

Housing support is most important in trying times, as there is no longer affordable housing in the Quad Cities area. This program is such a blessing to this city, and the help they have given to generations of families to prosper is incredible. I believe supporting Humility of Mary Housing is well worth the financial investment, in all aspects, for the future of families in crisis in the Quad Cities.

The continued support of the generous individuals and organizations that make our work possible create a better future for families in our community. Domestic violence, a cruel reality, can be survived. Futures are transformed at Humility of Mary Housing, through community support.

Autumn Reflections on Working to Alleviate Homelessness

autumn bermAutumn brings familiar seasonal changes, leading us to reflect on our lives. At HMHI, we also reflect on our work. Autumn reminds us of how important is this work that you, our supporters, empower us to do.

Autumn begins in September, the month we recall 9/11/2001 and the horrors and sorrow that the U.S. experienced as a nation in the aftermath of an attack. We did not provoke that attack; rather, we were living our lives and were attacked suddenly and without warning.

That event was completely out of our control. For many the domino affect must have been overwhelming and devastating.

This is the nightmare of a person living as homeless. Through no fault of their own–and sometimes without warning–they find themselves in a desperate situation. You see, not all homeless situations are caused by drug or alcohol abuse or gambling addictions. Homeless situations arise from:

  • fire,
  • death of a spouse,
  • catastrophic illness,
  • accident,
  • abuse or
  • divorce.

In some cases homelessness can happen in an instant. Life changes abruptly and will never be the same. Without a home, parents are left scrambling. They don’t know what they’ll do, how they’ll survive. They don’t know how to protect their children and carry on.

gloomy clouds
Overcast days reflect the dismal situations facing families suffering homelessness.

Homelessness happens to people who’ve never before needed assistance services. They don’t know the support system or how to access it. In many cases they are embarrassed. They never imagined they’d be in this situation.

Our hearts break for these families. It’s a “there but by the Grace of God go I” scenario.  Because, any of us could face this possibility.

Can you imagine working hard all your life only, for instance, to lose it all due to an auto accident?

Recovery exhausts your savings. Your employment replaced you. You have no job and more bills than you can handle. The bank is foreclosing. You and your children will be homeless. 

Can you imagine telling your children the night before your home is seized that tomorrow everyone will sleep in the car? Can you imagine swallowing fear as you try to appear positive so your children aren’t afraid?

This happens here in the Quad Cities. So, at HMHI we provide a home for single parents with children

  • who must struggle to keep their families together,
  • who want to retain custody of their children,
  • who need to keep their children fed, clothed and in school during crisis.
autumn apartment
Stability for a family suffering homelessness: donated items decorate their apartment home for the autumn season.

Our generous donors bring us usable household items, and we’re able to provide a furnished apartment. Our parents can “shop” for free in Gertrude’s Boutique for items they need to make their new apartment a home and haven.

We also give parents the opportunity to increase their education and job skills, while gaining stability. In this process we also help their children. New positive memories and sweet sleep replace their nightmares. Children’s schooling stabilizes. They can continue to achieve their goals.

Autumn, a time of harvest, reminds us of that most important mission here at HMHI.  With your help, we give parents and children the opportunity to again dare to dream and achieve. Thank you for making that happen!

fall reflections

Aspiring nurse seeks support

an aspiring nurse's school needs
We’re turning to the public for assistance so that one of our moms can learn to become a nurse. Donate to help!

mission accomplishedUPDATE August 20, 2015: THE GOAL IS MET! Thank you, HMHI Supporters, for providing the support that will allow this woman to start school with the materials she needs to succeed! WE ARE GRATEFUL TO YOU! No further donations are needed for this drive. However, you’re always welcome to contribute to continue our program, using the Donate Now button on this website.

One of our exemplary participants has earned a Pell Grant and secured her acceptance into nursing classes at Eastern Iowa Community College. She’s cleared some major challenges! Now, we’re asking for your assistance to help her purchase her back-to-school needs so she can take her place alongside other future nurses for the Quad Cities.

The nursing program requires students to come with equipment, a list that totals almost $650 worth of supplies. This includes a daunting list of essentials, including:

  • uniforms–tops  24.98 x 2   pants  20.78 x 2
  • lab coats  24.96 x 2
  • shoes–139.98

Many of the items specified for purchase need to be a particular brand or type, which minimizes the likelihood of finding those items in a good, used condition.

In an incredible effort, she has saved and also solicited help from her family and friends, and raised the majority of money needed. But we can’t expect the impossible from an individual woman who is battling homelessness. Helping her back to school is an investment in a brighter future for her family and for our community, too.

For this reason, we’re turning to our supporters–and to all Quad Cities residents who are counting on healing professionals to care for them on into the future. We are asking for free-will donations for this woman. She’s working hard to escape homelessness by securing a career that will support her and her family. She’s earned our support and respect.

Nurse Supplies, Nursing School Fund

If you’re able to contribute to her special back-to-school fund, please make your check payable to Humility of Mary Housing and designate “Nursing School” in the memo line. Checks received with this designation will go to our participant’s back-to-school fund. You can also contribute online by using the Donate Now button and attaching the “Nursing School” special instructions to HMHI when on the PayPal donation page. Call our office if you have any questions.

Thank you for considering this special request! With your help, we are creating a brighter future for the Quad Cities–one family at a time.

A Reflection on Anne Frank, the Quad Cities and Homelessness

Anne Frank
Anne Frank

Today in history….Anne Frank and her family went into hiding. They lived for two years in a secret room inside a warehouse before being discovered and sent to concentration camps. Her diary was found two years after her death and published.

Anne and her family fled and hid to avoid the horrible events of life. Anne’s parents did what they could to protect those children. In the same way our participant parents are doing things to protect their children. In one case a mother reported that as she watched her children duck under the beds when shooting started in the street outside, she knew in that instance that she had to move, to get her children out of there.

When life around us can’t be controlled, powerful forces sometimes push us into unpleasant circumstances. At HMHI, we help catch families who are forced to flee and start over. We offer housing and support for families in crisis.

​It was late in World War II that America started to hear about the concentration camps; we didn’t know the horrors that existed for the victims of Hitler until it was too late for most. But communications keep us more informed now. We can all see that many are experiencing homeless around us. We can’t say that we don’t know.

Because we do know.

Homelessness actually affects all of us. It affects business, tourism, and it increases costs to the state that are passed on to taxpayers. But, most importantly, homelessness affects our spirit: individually as a city, as the Quad Cities, as a state and as a nation.

HMHI is here at work in the Quad Cities Area to help those in need. With your help every day we are able to house, clothe and feed these families in crisis. Each family has two years, not in a secret room, yet sheltered from the world, to rebuild their lives, to gain education and employment. Two years to regain their purpose and sense of self. With your help we are getting these families back on track, we rejoice when each family leaves us for we know our work is done.

Thank you for continuing to help support our families.

2014 HMHI Participant Success [Infographic]

Eight out of ten of our program participants remained in our Transitional and Permanent Supportive Housing programs a minimum of six months. We are pleased that 75% of all families exited our program to enter permanent housing.

HMHI participating familyBetween April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014, we served 73 single parent families who were homeless, providing them with secure housing and supportive services and enabling them to regain housing stability.

With the help of our supporters, we will continue to improve the quality of life in our Quad Cities community.

Back to School: With or Without Homes?

boarding school bus
A Davenport child boards a school bus to begin the school day.

As summer vacation draws to a close, kids everywhere prepare to return to school. Stores are filled with school supplies; back-to-school advertising fills our TVs, radio and mailboxes. Many families scurry from store to store to purchase supplies, backpacks, clothes and haircuts. As children, we hated to see summer end, but we fondly remembered the annual ritual and the excitement of choosing new supplies and clothing to ease us into the new school year.

But, sadly, not all families and children in Scott County experience a new school year like this. While it may be hard to imagine, here in the Midwest hundreds of children don’t have a home to call their own. On any average day, Humility of Mary Housing provides nearly 50 apartments to children in families who are housing insecure. Lacking a secure place to live triggers a constant source of trauma for children in our community.

Permanent housing is a critical and basic need. Research has consistently shown that unless children’s most basic needs are met in a safe and consistent manner, their social, emotional, physical and cognitive development is often delayed. For them, back to school may usher in a round of discouraging setbacks as they struggle to succeed despite deficits that aren’t their fault.

A misconception about homeless parents is that they are slacking in providing for their children. Some remark: “they need to work like the rest of us.

Actually, the vast majority of families in homeless shelters are employed. They’re doing everything they can to move themselves to self-sufficiency and support their families. The problem is not with their motivation to support themselves. The challenge is that there is not housing available to them that they can afford.

If you’d like to assist these families, please partner with us at Humility of Mary Housing. We’re collecting back-to-school supplies to send our children to schools with new items and tools to help them learn. It’s not too late to help a child succeed. Our future will be brighter with your help.

SleepOut raises awareness of local homelessness

sleep out participants
Sleepout participants raise awareness of an important issue in the Quad Cities–homelessness.

Our sister agency, Humility of Mary Shelter, is holding its annual Night at the Shelter SleepOut tonight, October 4, at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport. The Night at the Shelter SleepOut raises awareness about homelessness in the Quad City community and raises funds to provide beds and support for homeless persons Humility of Mary Shelter, Inc. serves.

The event kicks off at 4:00 pm with an evening packed with fun for the whole family. Here’s sleepouta roster of events and attractions in store for participants:

  • live music,
  • a performance by Comedy Sportz,
  • kickball tournaments,
  • food vendors,
  • Jumpin’ Joeys bounce houses,
  • an outdoor movie on the Modern Woodmen Park jumbo screen, and
  • a homelessness learning opportunity: “Trading Places, A Homeless Experience”.

Participants can compete in the “Build Your Own Shelter” contest and spend the night in their own creation.

The event concludes on Saturday with breakfast and a heartfelt closing ceremony.

General admission to this event is $10 per person with participants encouraged to solicit sponsors to support their efforts to help the homeless. The entrance fee corresponds to the cost to fund one person’s bed for one night at Humility of Mary Shelter.

Melanie Jones from Mediacom Connections on Vimeo.

The top three SleepOut fundraisers will receive a Faithful Quilt Award. Additionally, their names will appear on next year’s event T-shirt. Visit www.humilityofmaryshelter.com for more information. Contributions to support HMSI are always welcome.

Adding enrichment to lives of our HMHI children

Promoting learning by doing, HMHI offers a highly-involved enrichment program, led by Moezella Stokes, to our participating children. May’s session–“HMHI Gardening Made Easy for Kids”–provided a chance for the children to create beauty with nature. Parents and children planted houseplants and learned new ways to upcycle common objects into container gardens. Small spaces–like apartments, windowsills and tiny balconies–are more beautiful when decorated with home-grown flowers and plants. The children love to plant and watch things grow!

container gardeners at work
Moms and children dug in and built a container garden project in May at HMHI. Moezella Stokes, program organizer, is third from left in photo and her helper, Helen Fogarty, appears second from left.

Living in a home entails learning to protect yourself in unexpected emergencies. The Davenport Fire Department taught HMHI children fire safety practices in June, using a high-tech mobile demo device they brought onsite: the mobile “Fire House.” Program children met the firemen who toured them though house the house themselves, instructing them in fire safety practices and escape methods. A follow-up fire-safety trivia game proved that the children learned the answers!

Davenport Fire Dept "Fire House" in action
In June, the Davenport Fire Department’s Fire House taught potential life-saving skills to our participating children.

Our children’s creativity sparkled in the fashion design category as July 2013 launched. Children submitted their patriotic t-shirt designs in red, white and blue. One talented winner earned a $15 dollar prize, but every entry entitled the designer to select a prize from Moezella’s prize grab bag, making everyone a winner.

This summer Moezella is leading weekly activities for our children. July’s action-focus involves the children in arts and crafts, making ice cream in a bag, enjoying movies and popcorn, and sharing favorite stories by reading aloud to others.

Enrichment at HMHI involves the whole family!