Top five FREE things to do with your kids this summer

summerHappy Summer everyone!

Here at Humility of Mary Housing we are excited to see some warm weather and sunshine as we continue to serve our community.

As your kids get out of school for summer, you’ll soon scramble to decide what to do with them on the weekends. Never fear! HMHI has compiled a top five list of things you can do with your kiddos… and the best part is, they’re all FREE!

1. GET CRAFTY. Home Depot, 920 Middle Rd., Bettendorf, offers FREE workshops on home depot photothe weekends for kids ages 5-12. Your little one will get to participate in a hands-on activity that teaches them great listening, building, and teamwork skills. You can sign up online here.

2. BUILD A FORT. Sheets and blankets are all you’ll need for this extremely fun activity. You can tuck the sheets into dress drawers, place them on top of couches, get creative! Your kids will feel like it’s their extra special secret place, and it will keep them busy for hours!

3. GO FOR A WALK. All you need is a nice sidewalk or neighborhood, and you’re set. This is a good chance for you to chat with your kids about crossing the street safely as well (looking both ways, watching for cars, etc.) You can get outside, get some exercise and spend some quality time with each other for FREE.

4.STARGAZE. For this activity, all you’ll need is a blanket, some bug spray, and some stargazingopen space. Spray the kids’ arms and legs, so they won’t get bug bites outside. Lay a blanket down in the grass, and watch the stars! If you have older kids, talk to them about basic star constellations such as the Big and Little Dippers. If you’re lucky, you may even see a shooting star!

5. PLAY CHARADES. Write some fun ideas on pieces of paper, and have kids draw them out of a cup or hat. You’ll laugh, and it’s a great way for children to use their imagination.

So there are your top five activities to do with your kiddos this summer. And they’re absolutely FREE.

From our home to yours, we hope you stay safe, cool, and hydrated this summer!

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!

Energizing our HMHI children with contests

We love to have special events to engage the children of our participating families. HMHI has two such contests this month. After all, we know that it’s the little extra things we do to support our kids that brighten their lives and their days these dark winter months. Besides, Valentine’s Day is approaching, and we need to be ready for it!

candy heartThe first contest is just for fun. Children from our program can guess how many candy hearts are in a jar. The child who comes closest to the correct number in the candy jar will receive a gift grab bag. This contest’s easy to enter. And, simply for entering, the participating children will receive a special valentine.

The second contest requires some creative self-expression. The contest asks our children to write a poetic expression to a loved one entitled “I Love You Because…”.  The writing contest winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate from Subway. We appreciate Subway’s certificate donation in sponsorship of the poetry contest.

All entries will be submitted by February 8. We’re looking forward to reading the entries and being inspired by the sincerity and the poetry of our HMHI children. The winners will be announced February 12–just in time for Valentine’s Day!


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.

Impoverished children face new school year without supplies

Back to school for this boy and his Spiderman backpack

One of a child’s exciting “moments” of the year is anticipating back-to-school. The year ahead is a blank slate–surely ready to reveal new wonders! But for nearly 20,000 students in the Quad Cities–and for our 100 HMHI children–who come from families with incomes low enough to qualify for free & reduced meals and fees, there’s also some anxiety.

Will I have the supplies that the teacher expects me to have? Will my mom be able to afford the clothing and shoes I need for school? Children without the basics experience shame and embarrassment, particularly when their peers notice what they lack.

Every year we try to help our participating families to acquire the back-to-school basics that they must have. The school supply lists are lengthy, and our single parent families are stretched to equip their children adequately–particularly when they have two or more students in schools.

You can assist us by dropping off school supplies during office hours [Monday-Friday, 8 AM-4 PM] at our office at

1228 E. 12th Street, Davenport, Iowa;  563/326-1330 (Phone)

These are supplies our HMHI children need that are in short supply:

  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Bookbags
  • Small bottles of hand sanitizer
  • 1 quart Ziploc baggies
  • Highlighters
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Paper towels
  • Composition notebooks
  • 3×5 index cards
  • Post it notes
  • 1″ – 3 ring binders
  • Plastic tab divider pages
  • Graph paper
  • 3 subject notebooks
  • Scientific Calculators
  • Calculators
  • USB flash drives

Most of our students are also expected to have these supplies:

  • 24 pk crayons
  • 4 oz. bottles of Elmer’s glue
  • Glue sticks
  • 8 pk washable markers
  • #2 pencils
  • Pocket folders
  • Fiskar scissors
  • Boxes of Kleenex
  • Wide ruled loose leaf paper
  • Colored pencils
  • Pencil tip erasers
  • Big pink erasers
We are so grateful for you for any supplies you can share. Your assistance will brighten the eyes and lighten the hearts of our children.
Image credit: David Lassman/ The Post-Standard as seen on

Children without homes share their pain

homeless children
homeless children

The heartbreak of homelessness is keenly felt by anyone without shelter. But, when children lose their family home, the heartbreak is particularly tragic.

The 60 Minutes segment –“Hard Times Generation–Homeless Kids”–documents the rise of homelessness in our nation. Originally airing in March, the segment that focuses on homeless families in Florida reran yesterday, and you can watch it here:

But the situation is by no means unique to that area of the country.

At HMHI, we’ve been sheltering children for over 20 years. Economic times are even more difficult now than when we started, but–with your help–we continue to help families right here in Iowa.

HMHI’s Family fundraiser “a hit” with old & new friends of Clifford the Big Red Dog

Clifford the Big Red Dog
Clifford and fans connect at the HMHI Night at the Family Museum

HMHI’s first-ever Night at the Family Museum was a fund-raiser that pleased on June 11! We had the Family Museum in Bettendorf to our own special evening of family interaction and fun from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. and not a second of that time was wasted.

The museum exhibits promoted family interactive activities.

The museum itself is filled with active and interactive fun for all that kept our guests busy and entertained.

cloud exhibt
The museum exhibits awed all ages!

The personal appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog, who wowed the little ones, was a special treat, highlighting the evening.

family eating
Families enjoyed supper together amidst the activities.

But our volunteer balloon artist Karen Habenicht was just as popular. She prepared balloon souvenirs for each child, created to match each one’s interests, favorites and preferences. And she sang and entertained the children as she blew and bent the balloons into amazingly intricate shapes and creatures.

serving hot dogs
Volunteers Connie Cervantes and  Amy Crist arranged and served food, included in the admission price.

Our staff and volunteers had prepared the Family Museum with special decorations, gift books of Clifford, and information about our program at HMHI.

Karen Habenicht, volunteer balloon artist, entranced the children and sent each one home with a personally-crafted creation.

All the proceeds from this $5 all-inclusive admission event will go to help HMHI help families who need homes, so the evening’s fun benefited a great cause. We gratefully acknowledge the event sponsors: Royal Neighbors, J. H. Laas Company and Celeste Dolan.

HMHI at Family Museum
HMHI’s helium balloons decorated that beautiful museum entrance.

The Development Committee of the HMHI Board took the lead in arranging our Family Night at the Museum event.  Members of the planning committee for this event are Connie Cervantes, Amy Crist, Michelle Kronfeld, Mike Laas, Kay Sigardson Poor and Janice Vrablec.

They’re already musing about repeating this wonderful evening next year. Clifford must travel to another town, but we know the Family Museum will have something just as wonderful to see in his place. If you attended Friday, we hope we’ll see you again.

So if you missed this enchanting evening, you may have another opportunity to thrill the special children in your life while helping less fortunate children.

Summer & School Vacation: Reminding us why a home is so important

outdoor play equipment
With school on summer break, our children have more time for outdoor play.

As schools close for summer break, children need homes to which they can return for the summer months. Year round, homes provide stability and structure to children, assets they need to help them grow.

Homelessness affects children’s school performance, a reality that a recent report from Milwaukee attests. In the Milwaukee public school district, Hopkins Street School Psychologist Amanda McEwen says the staff deal with the effects of homelessness every day:

“With the little ones you’ll see acting out and temper tantrums. In the middle school students you’ll see anger, and violence, and fighting. And a lot of it is that underlying anxiety, and often times, depression, resulting from situations where they don’t know where they’re going to get their next meal, they don’t know where they’re going to be sleeping, they don’t know who is going to be home when they get home,” she says.

Summer’s here. Kids are home from school. It is deeply satisfying to us at HMHI to be about the work of providing homes where children know that they belong.

Thank you for helping us do that.