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Heart of Hope
Baby Lydia with the Heart of Hope staff.
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Heart of Hope
Baby Lydia was born Jan. 3, 2014.
Heart of Hope – A Sanctuary for Women is a faith-based maternity home in a family setting staffed with house parents where young, pregnant women ages 11-23 are provided a safe refuge to focus on their emotional, physical, educational, and spiritual well-being.
“Through on-site professional counseling, life skill training and continued education in the computer classroom, young women are released into a purpose-driven life,” said Jodi Burns, executive director. “Opportunities are created for spiritual renewal in family devotions, personal Bible study, and corporate worship.”
The annual banquet for Heart of Hope Ministries will be Thursday, Feb. 13, at CenturyLink Center in Bossier. The guest speaker for the event is Michael Johnson, a nationally known comedian and pro-life speaker. Registration to attend or be a table host is on the website www.heartofhopeministy.com/events.
For those who would like to help underwrite the banquet, sponsorship suggestions are listed on the website. Heart of Hope is located at the old Grawood Christian School campus in Keithville and opened December 13, 2010.
“We have served 22 young ladies since opening in 2010,” Burns said. “We soon uncovered the need to begin planning for more substantial aftercare. Many of our young ladies, both minors and adults, require a continued concentrated level of support and care. We have found that these young ladies transition from surviving to thriving. Because we are classified as a maternity home, they are only able to return for two weeks post-partum. Even though they accomplish great milestones in education, emotional victories, and life skill training during their pregnancy, being a new teen or young mom is another life event requiring an even safer, nurturing, and supportive environment.
“We have begun renovation on a 730-square-foot building next to our maternity home, which will be efficiency for an adult mom and her baby. We should be completed with this renovation by end of February or early March. We are implementing a new mentorship program called Embrace Grace. This is a 12-week, small-group support program which involves our volunteers and churches that will layer what we are doing on a daily basis to promote spiritual and emotional healthy lives. Our biggest need, besides prayer, is getting the word out about the life-saving and life-changing ministry happening in the ladies we serve.”
Sherry Christy is a member of the board of directors and a table host for the banquet.
“I have seen young girls helped physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually through the efforts of the house and administrative staff,” Christy said. “Some residents have chosen to parent; others have chosen to gift their babies to adopting parents. Not only have the young girls benefitted from their stay at Heart of Hope, but those of us who have been involved through volunteer services have been blessed. I have seen young girls and their families come in devastated and uncertain of the future, but leave happy, more stable, and ready to move forward in life. There are many young girls in our area who need the services that Heart of Hope provides, and we are continually searching for ways to let people know about the home. Through the process of renovating and establishing the home, many people, businesses, and churches have partnered with us in support of the ministry and home for the girls.”
Applicants are not limited to Caddo Parish residency or even to the state of Louisiana. The girls attend classes at the facility so they do not get behind in their education. In addition to retired teachers volunteering to educate these young women, the girls also get help in setting career goals. Life skills and decision-making classes are provided.
“Boundaries” classes teach them about how to choose relationships instead of relationships choosing them. Sexual integrity, money management, nutrition, childbirth preparation and parenting classes are all taught by staff and accredited volunteers.
Food pantry items are available for the girls to plan their meals in a weekly planning meeting where they are taught “how to be good stewards” by couponing and choosing recipes.
The decor at Heart of Hope is upbeat and colorful. There’s nothing dreary or depressing about the motif of any of the rooms. Burns said they strive for a family dynamic. Some of the girls come from torn and divided families where a sit-down family dinner is a rarity.
There are no easy answers in a challenging pregnancy where decisions about single parenting, adoption and marriage must be addressed. But the staff has committed to walking these girls through their options in a loving, Christian home environment so they can have confidence in their decision.
-- By Elaine Marze