Member Spotlight: Hope House
Nov 12, 2019
While October may have been Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the nation, the problem of abuse doesn’t go away just because the calendar changes. Working to prevent domestic violence is a year-round effort that never ends for our member Hope House. What began as a single emergency shelter for 15 women and children in 1983 has grown into two emergency shelters and two outreach offices, with Hope House serving over 4,000 women, men, and children every year. “Our mission is to break the cycle of domestic violence by providing safe refuge and supportive services that educate and empower those impacted by domestic violence,” said MaryAnne Metheny, CEO of Hope House. “We also advocate social change that protects a person's right to live a life free of abuse.”
The idea for Hope House began in 1982, when newly-elected Independence Mayor Barbara Potts took office. She had a full agenda for the city, but soon found herself talking to police and other leaders about a subject that wasn’t discussed in the 80s: domestic violence. One officer shared a story of a woman in her car with her children sleeping in the back seat. The woman had driven all night until she ran out of gas because it wasn’t safe to go home. Mayor Potts put together a task force and within six months, someone had donated a three-bedroom house and there was enough money for a director. On January 1, 1983 at midnight, Hope house was born. The doors opened and the hotline was up and running. Within four hours they received their first call and intake.
Shortly after opening, the agency moved a few doors over to a bigger house with four bedrooms. They also opened their first outreach location in Independence. As the number of people contacting them grew, Hope House knew continuously moving to larger homes wasn’t going to break the cycle of domestic violence. The next step was to expand their services.
Fast forward to today, Hope House can provide a safe place to stay for 122 survivors. But it’s more than an emergency shelter. The agency also provides therapy, court advocacy, hospital advocacy, a safe visitation center, outreach advocacy, transitional and permanent housing, legal assistance, and a 24-hour hotline. Metheny says they expand their services based on the needs of survivors. "We adapt and create programming to make sure we’re meeting their needs. We do this through training that is culturally competent and trauma informed,” she explains. “And all our services are free of charge.”
Hope House continues to grow. There are two campuses, and a second outreach office is about to open. Metheny says outreach is key. “We continue to work on expanding [those] services to help people in crisis before they find themselves needing our shelter services.”
As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Hope House is shared their iCare campaign on social media to help raise funds that will support their programs and resources. The Chamber’s President & CEO Joe Reardon recently took part. Metheny values Hope House’s Chamber membership to help spread their mission. “It brings an opportunity for our staff to engage with new businesses, and network in both small- and large-scale events. It also gives us more opportunities to work with other community partners to expand our outreach -- creating a better community in which we all live and work.”