About Hope House of Central Louisiana
Hope House of Central Louisiana provides safe transitional housing and essential services to homeless women and their children, empowering them to independence.
Everyone served by Hope House will become actively engaged role models demonstrating self – determination, responsibility, and good citizenship.
Can you imagine being a single parent and your income doesn't pay for all of the necessities you and your family need? This month you can pay the rent and next month the utilities; but you gradually continue to get more and more behind on your obligations. Suddenly you feel as if you are drowning in debt.
Then one day, it all crashes in and you are evicted with no where to go.In 1987, staff at Shepherd Center began noticing a large increase in situations just like this. By the time women found their way to ShepherdCenter, they owed so much in back bills that there was no easy fix.
At that time, the Board of Directors began talking about options to assist those women and their families. Thanks to great efforts of community leaders like Joanne White and Polly Keller-Winter, Hope House was conceived. As fate would have it, Mrs. White was having a conversation with a former student and learned that she still owned her mother's old home on Bolton Avenue. She donated the home so that women could have a place to stay. She told the story of her mother, Marie Murphy, who raised her children in that home. In those days, hobos rode the trains from town to town. They would often get off the train in Alexandria and search for food. Mrs. Murphy would always make sandwiches and send her children out to feed the men. She would say "never ignore an outreached hand." How appropriate that her home continues to be used to help the homeless today. Hope House is forever grateful to Marie Murphy for her kindness, compassion for those less fortunate, and for her willing nature to make a difference in the lives of others.
Grants were written and volunteers lined up to begin working on the old home and make it a new home for 35 women and children. Volunteers cleared out the old furniture, developed plans and performed much of the work in preparation for the renovations.
On January 2, 1989, Hope House accepted its first residents – a young mother with two small children. In the early days, women could stay 45 days while they made arrangements for a more permanent solution to provisions of shelter. There was no child care program available at that time – women helped each other as they could. The training was limited and case management was the strongest tool for all of them. Volunteers from the community spoke in the evenings about topics of importance and women used their days to find work or housing. The house served as a temporary shelter for those in need.
In 1992 , Hope House, as a part of Shepherd Ministries was selected as one of President Bush's Thousand Points of Light. Following that, was a visit from the wife of then Vice President Dan Quayle, Marilyn Quayle.
Hope House continues its funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and United Way of Central Louisiana. Hope House also receives funds from other resources, including public and private foundations. Community support continues to grow each year.
Today, Hope House has grown. Women may stay for up to two years. During that time they participate in comprehensive life skills training and are provided with opportunities that empower them toward self-sufficiency. Case Management is stronger than ever. Child care and transportation options are available. Hope House was able to secure property directly across the street from the shelter in order to expand its training components, adding a computer lab. Tutoring is available every day for the children and cooperative agreements make it possible for school aged children to attend summer camp at the YMCA.
More than 300 people volunteer their time each year to make a difference in the lives of others. Children have the opportunity to participate in services that provide age appropriate activities to stimulate positive growth and development. Hope House served 179 homless women and children in 2006. The harsh reality is that there were 300 others that we could not serve due to capacity.
Hope House relies on the community to help support continued growth to meet the needs of the growing homeless population. Together, we are continuing to make a difference by "building futures full of hope".