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.

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

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.