By Managing Editor Teri L. Hansen
Falling on hard times can happen to anyone. Through any number of circumstances people can find themselves down on their luck and feeling like there is nowhere or no one to turn to. Then the downward spiral hits and it seems like digging out of the hole is impossible.
“When I was 14, I started smoking cigarettes and using drugs. I struggled in an unhealthy relationship with another addict and we had two children together. We didn’t know the Lord. At 26 years old, after being in and out of jail and finding no peace in my life, I gave my life to Jesus and came to Mt. Hope,” Dawn Gore said. “Today, I have been freed from the grips of cigarettes, drugs, and debt. I was able to get my driver’s license back, and the best of all…I have my children with me. Now, I get to mentor other women and watch God move in their lives. I enjoy growing in the community and building a firm foundation on what God and Mt. Hope Sanctuary have provided.”
Mt. Hope Sanctuary, Inc. was created through labors of love by Candace Lundberg, Kimberly Snyder and Jeni Hanken in 2003. These ladies had been guided by their faith in God to help women and children. Three years before the inception of Mt. Hope, they organized an Outreach Women’s Ministry. The ministry opened their eyes to an overwhelming need in the community. A need for faith-based, stable support for women and children in dire situations. Unfortunately, that need was so great, that a single church entity would not be able to sustain it and so they set out to create a non-profit organization based around HOPE – Healing, Opportunity, Peace and Empowerment.
“We see women from all circumstances; addiction, abandonment and generational poverty,” Mt. Hope Executive Direction Julie Holloway said. “These women are seeking help to get on their feet. Most of them will tell you, ‘I can’t do this on my own.’”
That is where the sanctuary comes in. They offer two programs. One for women with children and the other for women without.
The RISE Program provides support for females without children who are facing homeless situations in a short-term aspect. It requires a one-time $60 fee when she is placed in the program. It is a temporary program (usually two months) and therefor the application process is a little quicker. This program provides a single woman with a furnished room, shared kitchen, and personal care items, to get them back on their feet. In addition, a coach provides guidance in financial monitoring, education and employment, lifestyle changes and goals to ensure long-term success.
“We want these women to take what they learn and apply it to their lives,” Holloway said.
For those women with children, the Plan of Hope Residential Program is available. It is for a more long-term solution and the application is a little more extensive. Again, for a one-time fee of $60, the basic needs of the family are met, with the expectations being relatively small and largely beneficial. The program requires three things that encompass all the other tasks:
- Accept responsibility for past, present and future actions.
- Choose not to return to former associations, behaviors and lifestyles that affect her in a negative manner.
- Be committed to her personalized Plan of Hope Program.
The same as in the RISE Program, the ladies and their children learn life skills and lessons to help them in the future. As in any scenario in society, there are expected to help maintain the household and participate in the betterment of the Mt. Hope family.
“We really feel that any women who live in our home have had seeds planted,” Holloway said. “Years later they will still say, ‘That was the best thing for me.’”
The program is faith-based; however, it does not discriminate or reject applicants based on their religious beliefs and customs. They do not require church attendance, but they do ask that residents participate in devotional studies.
“We are trying to teach these women about Jesus,” Holloway said. “He is your savior and to lean on him for everything. So many have said they believed in God but didn’t really have a relationship with him.”
The strategy is working. In 2018 Mt. Hope was able to provide assistance to 16 residents and more than 300 others received help through their outreach services. While the residential services are solely for women and children, the outreach is open to everyone.
Because Mt. Hope is a faith-based ministry, they don’t qualify for much of the federal funding other non-profit organizations do. They operate mostly on donations and private grants. Many people in town have attended the Taco Tuesday events they host in April and September and in addition they will be holding a banquet in July.
For those wanting to lend a helping hand there are a number of ways to give. From donating items to employee partnership, there are ways to help. Visit https://www.mthopesanctuary.org/
To learn all the ways you can be of service.
To see the good work of the sanctuary, live and in person, an open house will be hosted from 1 to 3 p.m. on Dec. 8 at 303 N. Walnut St. This is a time for the people of McPherson to truly see the generosity and charity that has been a part of the community for more than a decade.
“The great thing about what we do is that everything is measurable,” Holloway said. “You can see the results of the program.”