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 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!

“It’s Showtime!”–Today’s Point in Time count: January 30, 2013

2013PITPosterToday is the critical Point in Time count for the Quad Cities. During the last 10 days of January, more than 400 Continuums of Care (CoC), covering over 3,000 cities and counties across the country organize tens of thousands of volunteers in a national effort to measure the scale of homelessness in the United States. Today’s census of homelessness in the Quad Cities participates in this national action.

These counts reveal the number of homeless persons in our shelters and on our streets at a single point-in-time. These one-night snapshot counts also provide leaders in the Quad Cities with data we need to understand the number and characteristics of persons who are homeless so that we can develop a thoughtful and appropriate response.

This effort allows communities across the nation to find out not just how many people are homeless, but who is homeless and more importantly, why they are homeless. Being able to answer these important questions is critical if we ever hope to end homelessness.

Today will be a busy day! Read more about the Point in Time count on our Events page. And watch the public service message singer Cyndi Lauper contributed to this day on our events page, too.

HMHI prepares for the Point in Time Count: January 30

point in time countThe Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires that continuum of care (CoC) communities like ours that receive HUD CoC funding perform a “one-day, point-in-time” count. This is a survey or count of the sheltered (every year) and unsheltered (every other year) homeless individuals. It occurs during the last week of January, on a single designated night. The January 2013 Point in Time Count will be on Jan. 30, and it’s theme is “Let’s Make Everyone Count.”

Each count is planned, coordinated, and carried out locally. This happens in over 400 Continuums of Care (CoC) communities, covering over 3,000 cities and counties across the country. HMHI and its sister organization HMSI are fully involved in the Quad Cities.

Results of the 2013 Homeless Count and Subpopulation Survey will provide benchmark numbers. We’ll use them as the basis for developing local community strategies. The overarching goal is to help people exit life on the streets, so these numbers help plan future services. But the numbers we count will also help us determine the success of our efforts to provide effective programs serving homeless individuals and families.

These counts help verify the need for state and federal funding that agencies depend on to provide shelter, housing, and support services to our community’s homeless. HUD is the largest source of homeless program funding, so ensuring that the funding is accomplishing what it was intended to do is vital to keep services operating.

Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Cyndi Lauper joined the effort to “Make Everyone Count,” a national campaign to support the local one-night counts of homeless persons and families. This national public service announcement encourages viewers to volunteer to gather this data on homelessness in the United States:

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines homeless as persons who are sleeping in places not meant for human habitation, sleeping in emergency shelters, or living in transitional housing after having come from the a shelter or place not meant for human habitation.

By knowing the numbers, we can move forward in our work of assisting people who don’t have homes. Sadly, this includes families with children. So the work is very important to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

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.

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.

hmhi logo

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.

hmhi logo

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.

hmhi logo

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.

hmhi logo

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