BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Homelessness is an issue that can often break your heart, as families try to survive during some difficult financial and emotional times. But there’s a nonprofit in Bloomington that is tackling the issue head-strong, and doing wonderful things to help families young and old get back on their feet.
This episode of the ‘’Tallen Time’’ podcast is the best one yet, because we’re going to take you behind the scenes at New Hope For Families, a homeless shelter that offers child care, places to live temporarily, job training and life skills.
We spent a day there and did exclusive interviews with board member Liz McCrea and executive director Emily Pike. We also had the honor of talking with three women who have be through the New Hope programs and are their success stories, where they’ve landed on their feet with good jobs, places to live and friends forever at New Hope.
These three women who were once struggling and desperately needed New Hope’s and are now thriving as a family, both personally as professionally. All these of those interviews will bring you to tears.
“This is a wonderful charity that I first got some knowledge about from my dear friends Liz and Dave McCrea, and I’ve known them since I was here in college in Bloomington,’’ Tallen Time host Terry Tallen said during a recent visit to New Hope. “It’s a great group that’s tackling the issue of homelessness and it’s wonderful to see what the leadership has done with this program at New Hope.’’
“This is one of the missives of our show, to promote great charities, promote philanthropy. This one deserves your support. The website is NewHope4Families.org’’
Liz McCrea became involved with New Hopes more than a decade ago after retiring from her job at Indiana University. It’s meant the world to her to see them grow from a small operation to a beautiful new facility just south of downtown Bloomington
“I am proud beyond measure to see this new facility,’’ said Liz McCrea, a New Hope board member for several years now. “We’ve moved from those tiny little bungalows on 2nd Street to this. There was a lot of discussion when we had to move, and that’s when we decided we had to start from scratch. Most of the funding for this has been raised within the community, and that’s very rewarding for me’’
“In addition to helping families become stable again, it’s great that we’ve been able to support those families and keep, really, up to 800 kids out of foster care. We’ve been able to do that here, to have a place with child care and living areas, but no one would take entire families together as a unit. That’s the core of New Hope, to keep families together. To be housing insecure is stressful enough, and it’s even worse when you start breaking up families. We didn’t want to see that happen.’’
During our time at New Hope, we had the privilege of talking to three mothers who are New Hope success stories. All three were having severe financial issues and needed help with child care and dealing with family issues and massive debt.
“It’s the best program we could have ever asked for,’’ Megan said. “We’ve built relationships here that will last forever. As folks who came to Bloomington later in life, this place has anchored us.
“We maintained so many friends from our time here, and we’ve developed a lot of relationships with the staff too. It’s wild to see how this has grown, and they do a great job of helping with our child-care crisis here in Bloomington.’’
“I was married and was abused by an alcoholic and I needed help with day care and then a shelter when the abuse got bad, and that’s when I found New Hope,’’ Amy said. “It’s helped me so much with my children, but they’ve helped me fix my credit and helped me be a better parent. The staff here, they are always willing to listen and willing to help me when I’ve needed things, helping me with food resources and other things.
“If New Hope wasn’t here, I wouldn’t be in Bloomington, wouldn’t be just two classes away from getting my degree. My kids are safe here, and they’ll do anything they can to help me. I’m always bragging to everybody just how great they are.’’
Daniella came to Bloomington from the Netherlands while her husband was a student at Indiana, but a divorce soon followed and she was here in Bloomington far away from all of her family in Europe. New Hope literally saved her life.
“I was suddenly a single mother with no college degree, and it was rough,’’ Daniella said. “My son was 2 and a half, and I was able to help get child care here so I could go to school and work. It saved my life to have him here, because I had no other family here. They became a second family for me here. It made me feel so safe that they took such good care of him.
“I feel so thankful for the people here, because they are my friends. When they had the open house, I brought my son, who’s eight now, and he remembers and was so excited. I’ve told Emily that, that I would have never had my opportunities without them. I am very thankful, and it makes me emotional to know they are thriving, and my family is thriving.’’
Emily Hope, New Hope’s executive director, has been involved with the nonprofit for the past decade, and has been the executive director for the past five-plus years. “They can accommodate up to 12 families in their new shelters now.
“The idea of being in a place that we chose (and designed and built from scratch), it’s almost like living a dream.’’ She said. “We designed all these buildings for lots of people, and it’s all designed so much better than what we dealt with before. It’s so much better for families now.
“Lots of little things in the design all make so much sense. Like all the windows, they got all the way to ground, so even our babies can see outside. These kids all deserve the very best that we can offer them.
“Every time I come here, I just feel so privileged that parents, while they are in crisis, are willing to say to us, ‘Will you help?’ We can help and still preserve dignity for them, and it’s great to stand with these families while they do very hard things and then thrive down the road.’’
“Sometimes we act like homeless defines people. Homelessness doesn’t define them any more then a car accident defines you or me. What they do after is what defines them., the kind of careers they choose, the kind of parents they wind up being. Now we see them as nurses and teachers and massage therapists. That’s all so exciting.
To watch the full episode, CLICK HERE