Resource center for teen moms opens

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Hope House is a place for second chances and new beginnings. It’s a place where teen moms can gain an education and a new outlook on life. And now, teen moms in the Westminster area will have a resource center in their backyard offering free services.

Hope House is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged teen moms become self-sufficient. The Westminster resource center opened on Jan. 24 at 9088 Marshall Court. The center focuses around GED and mentoring programs to teenage girls who are parenting their children.

Executive Director Lisa Steven said the both programs seek to empower at-risk teenagers to strive for personal and economic self -sufficiency and experience hope for a healthy future with their child.

“It’s really about empowering these teenage moms to build a stable life for their kids,” she said. “But there is a lot of complexity in that, so it’s about supporting these girls and giving them access to gain self-sufficiency.”

The mentoring program matches a teen mom with a trained volunteer mentor who helps the mom work toward self-sufficiency through a structured curriculum.

They meet two to four times a month to develop goals for reaching pre-determined self-sufficiency markers, such as obtaining safe housing.

The GED program helps teen moms earn their GED through individual instruction. GED and career prep specialist Katie Morton said the teen moms meet three times a week for their GED classes and the program has an 80 percent graduation rate.

“Usually it takes the girls around seven-and-a-half weeks to earn their GED, which is much faster than the average rate, which is around six months,” she said. “One reason why it’s faster is because the girls are getting one-on-one help.”

Hope House also offers a residential program for teen moms who are homeless or are living in an unsafe environment. The five-phase program empowers and equips parenting teenage moms as they move toward personal and economic self-sufficiency.

Jacqueline Cossio is in the residential program. She found Hope House on Google when she was searching for housing. She and her eight-month old daughter Genesis moved into the safe house in July 2012. Since then, she’s earned her GED and volunteers in a dental office. She has plans to go to college to become a dental hygienist.

“Hope House has given me so many opportunities. Now that I’m in the residential program, my baby has her own room and a safe place to live,” she said. “She’s just a really happy baby. It feels good to be able to give her a good life. That’s why I’m doing this and it’s so worth it.”

Westminster Mayor Nancy McNally said she’s excited to have Hope House in the community because it’s offering educational and mentoring opportunities that are priceless.

“Hope House is showing these young moms that they can have a bright future and can provide for themselves and their child,” she said. “I am glad that Hope House found Westminster to be a good fit because they offer the teen moms in our community hope for the future.”

For more information on Hope House or volunteer opportunities, visit www.hopehouseofcolorado.org.