...And where were they before?
In 2015, over 50 women applied for housing at Hearth Homes, of which 19 entered the program and stayed with us for an average of 7 months each. Rarely is homelessness associated with Spokane Valley, but in that same year, over 800 children were identified in the Valley School Districts as homeless at some point throughout the school year. This makes for an uphill battle considering homeless services are extremely limited in Spokane Valley.
Fortunately, Spokane County service providers recognize the need to work together to fill gaps, serve needs and do so on VERY limited support. Hearth Homes strives to fill those needs by rallying an outstanding community to meet their needs with no State or Federal funding and runs solely by individual donors, businesses and small grants including a city grant. This cohesion between providers means women quickly connect with Hearth Homes when their social service providers recognize their need for stable housing.
Most frequently, women come to us from Union Gospel Mission's (UGM) Women and Children's Crisis Shelter and, at times, from Anna Ogden Hall (also a UGM ministry). These women tend to already have an idea of what it's like to stay in a Christ-Centered environment. One Hearth Home's resident cried when she saw her own room for her family: she spent the last 2 months sharing a motel-size room with 2 other families. Another exclaimed, "this is the first time in years that I've had a key to my home!" Several women come to Hearth Homes from substance abuse treatment programs like Isabella House or ABHS. Coming from these highly intensive programs with nowhere to go, often women will end up on the streets again and the temptation to use their drug of choice becomes to difficult to withstand. "I need the structure and accountability while I work my program and search for a job."
Other families are referred by the Department of Child and Family Services when a social worker identifies that homelessness is keeping their families at great risk and could be the only thing between having children reunified after staying in foster care. One mother came to us just a day after giving birth in order to keep her baby and continue to get the counseling and parenting support she needed.
Finally, women experiencing homelessness will often reach out to us after doing a search on the internet and coming across our website. "I can't stay with him, anymore, it's not safe for my children." These women choose to leave abusive relationships steeped in addiction in an effort to spare their children from the negative effects of this lifestyle and it is never an easy decision.
The women we house are strong, smart, savvy, and highly motivated to care for their children and move beyond the unhealthy experiences they've battled since their own childhood. The hardest battle is against the many lies they were told growing up by the very people that were meant to keep them safe. Our prayer is that we might reveal God's truth to them of their immense value and the incredible freedom He offers. Thanks to your support and a community that cares, women at Hearth Homes experience safe, loving relationships and make tremendous gains for a brighter future. "Living at Hearth Homes gave me the tools I needed to build a foundation for my family."
All quotes direct from current and graduated residents of Hearth Homes.