In all of my years working with teenagers, I’ve never met a more impressive group than those I’ve met at Hope House of Colorado. These determined young women have overcome generational poverty, pushed through impossible situations, and inspired entire communities to be better and do better.
Out of the overflow of their hope, they offer others hope.
And they are teenage moms doing their best to parent well.
This year Hope House of Colorado will serve 200 teenage moms and their children. Since 2003, this ministry has helped more than 700 adolescent moms work toward personal and economic self-sufficiency, and to understand their significance in God’s sight.
How does Hope House foster a community of determined, strong, hope filled, gritty teenage moms?
#1—It Offers a Safe Space for Messy People:
That means the door is always open no matter how many times you doubt yourself. No matter how many times you want to give up. No matter how many times doors have been slammed shut in your face. Hope House will never slam its door on you. I’ve heard many teenage moms say things like: “Being a teen mom, people are always judging me and looking at me. But at Hope House I don’t feel judged and I don’t feel like just another teen mom. I feel loved and I feel like a good mom.” Throughout my years in youth ministry I’ve heard students say they feel judged by the church. Our churches and youth ministries, like Hope House, must become a safe space where we are committed to extinguishing judgment and favoritism, never giving in to shaming or exclusion. Ever!
#2—It Offers Hope and a Future:
Teenagers can’t build endurance or grit without a prevailing hope for their future. The leaders at Hope House give adolescent moms permission to dream and hope for a bright future for themselves and for their children. Many of these girls have grown up in generational poverty, and have never been allowed to dream. They are oppressed by lies—I’m not smart enough, I don’t deserve this, I don’t have enough money, I can’t do this—and desperately need the fierce hope that the same Jesus who commanded storms to cease can also overcome the obstacles in their way. Leaders at Hope House help teenage moms set goals, then they walk alongside them in their successes and failures. When they fail a GED test, those leaders encourage them to stay focused on the goal and to continue striving. Failure does not mean the end of a dream. As youth ministry leaders, we’re called to foster grit and determination as our teenagers face disappointment and heartbreak. Do you know your students well enough to know what they are striving for? Will you be the one to encourage them when they fail, even if it’s over and over? And will you be the one to celebrate with them when they have overcome all obstacles and refused to quit?
#3—It Offers a Whole-Village Approach:
Yes, “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” At Hope House adolescent moms are surrounded by their peers, loving and dedicated staffers, committed volunteers, and by countless community members, organizations, and churches. Veteran youth workers know this truth—it’s impossible to lead an effective ministry by yourself. You can give your students a taste of heaven on earth by partnering with many! Connect with other churches, kids’ families, a larger pool of volunteer leaders, and other ministries within your church! At Hope House teenage moms experience the love of God reaching them from many, many directions. Don’t be territorial—share your teenagers and share your resources. You’ll see their faith grow beyond what you could imagine.
We give our teenagers a safe space to dream big and lean into the hope of Jesus Christ when we surround them with people who are for them and love them fiercely. We aim to become a second family, where kids can both succeed and fail, grow in character and wisdom, experience grace and love, all with the determination and grit of the world-changers God created them to be.
(If you’d like more information or have questions about the Hope House model, please contact me at Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org.)