Do you know Homes with Hope?????
Homes with Hope has been providing food and shelter to our neediest neighbors in Westport since 1983. The organization provides emergency shelter to men women and families (35 children!) in Westport every night. Through Project Return, on Compo Rd. N., the organization houses 8 young women, aged 18-24, who are trying to get back on their feet after the many challenges one faces in a life without parental influence or positive role models. www.hwhct.org
Homes with Hope is one of only four homeless organizations in affluent Suburban America! This organization, right here in Westport, provides a range of services that have helped thousands of individuals stay in Westport and live as full a life as possible. Their main programs include:
- Emergency Shelter – HwH operates emergency shelters serving three different populations, all facilities are staffed 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The Gillespie Center & Hoskins’ Place is a 19-bed shelter for single men and women who are 18 years or older. The Bacharach Community is the agency’s 6 unit shelter for mothers and their children who are experiencing homelessness. All individuals and families entering the shelter have struggled with economic challenges and many are also dealing with mental illness, substance abuse, medical issues or domestic violence. There is a Program Director and Case Manager on duty during normal business hours Monday through Friday at both shelters. In addition to food and shelter clients are provided with individualized case management and social services focused on the overarching goal of returning each client to stable housing that they are able to maintain. Project Return is an 8-bed Transitioning Aged Youth (18-24 years) shelter for young women operated in a small home in Westport. The women are provided with the same services as our other shelters with a focus on creating a safe and home-like environment. This program served 27 women in its first year with 87% of the 23 who left the shelter having a positive exit.
- Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) – HwH currently operates 42 units of PSH, in Westport and Norwalk, serving both individuals and families. Seventeen apartments are HwH owned and the balance is owned and operated by Westport Housing Authority or New Neighborhoods, Inc. who provide specific units that are designated for the chronically homeless. Tenants live in an independent apartment with a lease and have non-mandatory professional case management services provided to them by a case manager with a Masters in Social Work and/or are Licensed Clinical Social Workers.
- Youth Education – ASAP (After School Academic Program) was created as a result of watching a number of the youth living in the agency’s PSH programs repeat the family’s cycle of homelessness. Despite the extensive work done by our professional case management staff with the families and individuals served, we continue to see the negative effects that homelessness imprints on many of our programs’ children. ASAP is led by Lynn Abramson, MA, Ed who works with the young people in this program, elementary to high school students, to provide a consistent structure, positive role models, academic support and enrichment activities that will help them develop the skills and tools they need to be successful at school and in their personal lives. Lynn has established multiple effective partnerships, the foremost being our partnership with the Westport Schools. She is in regular contact with our participants’ counselors and teachers. These collaborative efforts have enabled us to catch and resolve issues early, thus improving student outcomes. We have also partnered with other community organizations including the Westport Public Library (collaborating with children’s librarians and MakerSpace), the Westport Center for Senior Activities, and A Better Chance.
- HEAL & Mentoring Initiative Programs – both of these programs reach out to people not necessarily in our shelters or PSH but can be. Recognizing the transformative powers of giving and altruism the HEAL program is committed to helping adolescent girls attending local middle and high schools by bringing them together as a group to participate in volunteer service to others. Giving to others inspires feelings of well-being, optimism, confidence and success. In their service to others the girls begin to grow through that power of helping and healing others, gaining resiliency and improving their own self-esteem. Through the staff’s own modeling of empathy, altruism and love, the girls gain a healthier understanding of who they are and what they have to offer. HwH also has a program designed to support HwH clients and other women and men at risk who are struggling to create stable and self-sufficient lives. Through weekly one-on-one meetings, trained volunteer mentors under the supervision of an HwH program director, offer compassion, guidance and friendship, fostering confidence and self-reliance.
- Community Kitchen & Food Pantry – HwH operates the Community Kitchen at the Gillespie Center that serves approximately 30,000 meals annually. Volunteers from numerous organizations in our community take turns preparing lunches and dinners; breakfast is always available through the resources of our Food Pantry that is supplied by a variety of food collection and donation drives in Westport and surrounding Fairfield County. Non-perishables and periodically fresh produce are available to all who come without restrictions related to the town they live in.
Learn more about this great Westport institution at www.hwhct.org or Jeff Wieser, President & CEO 203-226-3426.