BY KELSEY O’CONNOR
A father of two who lost his job, a family struggling with their child’s disability, a woman with a debilitating injury and an infant. All of these people have been through the doors of New Hope Family Shelter, an emergency shelter serving Monroe County.
Beyond providing temporary shelter, New Hope’s mission is to address the causes of homelessness. The staff creates individualized programs to meet the needs of each family, but the goal is always to help the family achieve self-sufficiency. Programs include cooking skills, budgeting, time management, and life coaching.
New Hope opened its doors at 409 W. 2nd St. in 2011. It has since expanded to a second house on the same street and can now accommodate up to six families at a time. Since opening, New Hope has housed 54 families, composed of 123 individuals. It also has had to turn away 233 families because of a lack of space or eligibility requirements.
Elaine Guinn, the shelter’s executive director, previously worked as a paraprofessional at schools in Avon, Ind., while pursuing a special education degree. As a child, Guinn experienced homelessness twice. “I think that’s what I bring to New Hope,” she says. “I don’t judge the experience. I try to guide them through it because I have been there.”
Guinn’s priority is the well-being of the children who come to the shelter. “Just coming through the door of New Hope is a trauma,” Guinn says. “It’s an emotional earthquake, and we try to make that as easy a transition as possible.” The children’s program focuses on social, academic, and emotional needs. Academic support includes weekly tutoring in several subjects, as well as an art program.
Families can remain for up to 90 days, but the average stay is 44 days. Of the families housed, 68 percent left New Hope to live independently. All services at the shelter are available to families for up to six months after they leave.
Guinn says that the most valuable thing people can donate to New Hope is their time. The shelter also accepts monetary donations, and is always in need of toiletries and other supplies. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.