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!

“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: http://www.catholicmessenger.net/2012/12/humility-of-mary-housing-helped-mom-turn-life-around/

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.

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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.

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.

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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