Hope House Colorado empowers parenting teen moms to strive for personal and economic self-sufficiency and to understand their significance in God's sight, resulting in a healthy future for their children.
Hungry and homeless: these are real issues for teenage mothers living in our community. In fact, 67% of teen moms live below the poverty line -- which came as a surprise to our local founders over two decades ago.
Hope House Colorado began when the founders, two former teen moms themselves, recognized that because 67% of teen moms live below the Federal poverty line, they are a particularly vulnerable population that is often overlooked. The challenges these economically disadvantaged teens face are significant:
• Less than 50% of teen moms will graduate from high school;
• Fewer than 2% will ever earn a college degree;
• In Colorado, a teen mom must work 110 hours per week at minimum wage to earn enough annual income to meet basic needs without public assistance
Hope House opened its Residential Program in 2003 in Arvada. To date, this program has served 130 formerly homeless or at-risk teen moms and their children with a high rate of success among program graduates: 90 percent of graduates have achieved basic levels of self-sufficiency.
Demand for services for teen moms increased every year, with staff receiving approximately 150 crisis calls annually from teen moms and service providers. In response, we launched our Community Program initiative in 2007, which included a GED Program, and supportive services such as healthy relationships classes, parenting classes, certified counseling, life skills classes, job readiness workshops and community building activities.
In 2012, we opened our Resource Center in Westminster, moving all Community Programs, including our GED Program, to this new location; the house in Arvada now hosts the Residential Program only and is thus able to offer housing to more teen moms and their children. In 2013 we launched a College & Career Support Program, offering practical support and resources to teen moms in college or entering the workforce. In 2014 we opened an Early Learning Program for the children of Hope House teen moms.
Hope House is finalizing the construction of a new Resource Center adjacent to the Residential House in Arvada. The new Resource Center will allow Hope House to serve 450 teen moms and 675 children annually!
All Hope House programs were modeled after other historically-proven programs, including The Gathering Place; Denver Rescue Mission's Champa House, Second Chance Homes, and Save Our Youth.
Janelle remembers when her world crumbled. She was 12 when her parents' fights and addictions led them to split. Although Janelle and her brothers were already used to living in chaos, now they were left on the sidelines, trying to take care of themselves. Janelle ended up meeting an older boy - and they connected deeply as they shared stories from their rough childhoods.
By age 14, Janelle was pregnant, and that same boyfriend became abusive, leaving her with bruises make-up couldn't cover. By the time Joseph was born, Janelle had stopped going to school. By the time he turned four, Janelle had another baby boy.
Janelle and her boys eventually became homeless - sleeping in a car, on the ground, or in homeless shelters. Sleeping in a car was actually a good night because the ground was cold and the shelters were crowded, smelly and scary.
Janelle knew she had to make a change.
She found Hope House online and enrolled in our GED Program. Surrounded by staff and volunteers who encouraged her, Janelle began to feel hope.
Six months later, Janelle had earned her GED and had found her own confidence. With the support of our College & Career Program, Janelle applied to the Community College of Denver and began working toward a certification in machining.
The tutors at Hope House helped Janelle when she needed it, and she stuck with the program. When she graduated, she was offered a job at Ball Aerospace as a machinist. Today Janelle is loving her job, where she gets to use the skills she learned in college. She also now owns her very own house, where she and her boys are thriving!